Public Release:  Mediterranean diet may help protect kidney health

Eating fruits, vegetables, fish, legumes, and heart-healthy fats linked with decreased risk of developing chronic kidney disease

American Society of Nephrology

Highlights

  • Every one-point increase in a Mediterranean diet score was associated with a 17% decreased likelihood of developing chronic kidney disease.

  • Dietary patterns that closely resembled the Mediterranean diet were linked with a 50% reduced risk of developing chronic kidney disease and a 42% reduced risk of experiencing rapid kidney function decline.

    More than 20 million US adults have chronic kidney disease.

    Washington, DC (October 30, 2014) -- Adhering to a Mediterranean-style diet may significantly reduce the risk of developing chronic kidney disease, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN).

    Chronic kidney disease is a growing epidemic, and while there has been significant progress in protecting against kidney disease and its progression through aggressive treatment of risk factors such as hypertension and diabetes, many people still experience declining kidney function as they age. Minesh Khatri, MD (Columbia University Medical Center) and his colleagues wondered whether an improved diet might provide additional benefits.

    "Many studies have found a favorable association between the Mediterranean diet and a variety of health outcomes, including those related to cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, and cancer, among others," said Dr. Khatri. "There is increasing evidence that poor diet is associated with kidney disease, but it is unknown whether the benefits of a Mediterranean diet could extend to kidney health as well." The Mediterranean diet includes higher consumption of fruits, vegetables, fish, legumes, and heart-healthy fats, while minimizing red meats, processed foods, and sweets.

    The researchers examined the associations of varying degrees of the Mediterranean diet on long-term kidney function in an observational, community-based, prospective study. In their analysis of 900 participants who were followed for nearly 7 years, every one-point higher in a Mediterranean diet score, indicating better adherence to the diet, was associated with a 17% lower likelihood of developing chronic kidney disease. Dietary patterns that closely resembled the Mediterranean diet (with a score of ≥5) were linked with a 50% lower risk of developing chronic kidney disease and a 42% lower risk of experiencing rapid kidney function decline.

    In an accompanying editorial, Julie Lin, MD, MPH, FASN (Brigham and Women's Hospital) noted that a Mediterranean-style diet is only one component of an overall healthy lifestyle, which also needs to incorporate regular physical activity. "Although a seemingly simple goal, achieving this is challenging. We need to begin by embracing the reality that there is no magic pill or miracle food, only vigilance and discipline with diet and regular exercise, and the rare indulgence in cake for very special occasions," she wrote.

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    Study co-authors include Yeseon Moon, MS; Nikolaos Scarmeas, MD, MS; Yian Gu, PhD; Hannah Gardener, ScD; Ken Cheung, PhD; Clinton Wright, MD, MS; Ralph Sacco, MD, MS; Thomas Nickolas, MD, MS; and Mitchell Elkind, MD, MS.

    Disclosures: The authors reported no financial disclosures.

    The article, entitled "The Association between a Mediterranean-Style Diet and Kidney Function in the Northern Manhattan Study Cohort," will appear online at http://cjasn.asnjournals.org/ on October 30, 2014.

    The editorial, entitled "Where What is Not Stated or Required May Be the Most Illuminating," will appear online at http://cjasn.asnjournals.org/ on October 30, 2014.

    The content of this article does not reflect the views or opinions of The American Society of Nephrology (ASN). Responsibility for the information and views expressed therein lies entirely with the author(s). ASN does not offer medical advice. All content in ASN publications is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, drug interactions, or adverse effects. This content should not be used during a medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Please consult your doctor or other qualified health care provider if you have any questions about a medical condition, or before taking any drug, changing your diet or commencing or discontinuing any course of treatment. Do not ignore or delay obtaining professional medical advice because of information accessed through ASN. Call 911 or your doctor for all medical emergencies.

    Founded in 1966, and with more than 15,000 members, the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) leads the fight against kidney disease by educating health professionals, sharing new knowledge, advancing research, and advocating the highest quality care for patients.

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