Kidney disease may be avoided with DASH diet

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is well-known for being one of the best eating plans for helping to reduce hypertension, heart disease and assisting with weight loss.  Its mainstay has always been a lifelong approach to healthy eating designed to help treat or prevent high blood pressure and encourages eating a variety of foods rich in the nutrients of potassium, calcium, and magnesium.

Now two new studies published in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases also recommend using the DASH diet to help reduce the risk for chronic kidney disease (CKD).

A first study called the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) followed the development of CKD in 14,882 black and white adults for over 23years and had each participant self-report their food intake of various foods.  None of the participants were given any dietary advice.

Participants’ diets which were least reflected the DASH diet were 16% more likely to develop CKD than participants whose diets were more closely aligned with the DASH diet.

Those who consumed a high intake of red and processed meats such as cold cuts, hot dogs, sausage, etc. had a 22% higher risk for developing CKD.  Individuals who had a higher intake of healthy nuts and legumes, and low-fat dairy saw 9% and 16% lower risks, respectively.

Some of the reasons that the researchers believe for the outcome of this study is that the because of the DASH diets emphasis on increasing foods high in potassium, calcium, and magnesium, it has a lower dietary acid load than the typical American diet.  In addition, many Americans are eating foods high in sugar which can increase inflammation and endothelial dysfunction leading to CKD.

A second study published in Arthritis and Rheumatology found that the DASH diet can help lower uric acid, a substance linked to increased CKD risk.  It has been known from previous studies that lowering uric acid levels can improve kidney functioning and reduce albuminuria, which is when the protein albumin is abnormally present in the urine.  In this study the DASH effectively lowered serum uric acid by 1.3 mg/dl in adults with uric acid above 7 mg/dl. It has also been found that being obese and eating an unhealthy diet is strongly associated with albumin in the urine. 

Other past studies have shown favor to the DASH diet in protecting the kidneys.  One study tracked 3,700 people with chronic kidney disease for seven years and found those who consumed the most salt had a higher risk of stroke and heart failure than those with the least. 

When researchers tracked roughly 3,000 women in the Nurses’ Health Study for 11 years, those who ate a DASH-like diet were 45 percent less likely to have a rapid drop in glomerular filtration rate (GFR) which is the rate at which your kidneys filter blood.  Every 30 minutes, the kidneys filter all the blood in the body.  If the GFR number is low, then the kidneys are not working as well to be able remove enough wastes and fluids to keep a person healthy.  In adults, the normal GFR number is more than 90. 

Some tips on lowering risk of developing chronic kidney disease include the following:

·         Consume more fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains

·         Consume less salt, sugar-sweetened drinks, and red and processed meats.

·         Stop smoking

·         Exercise daily and lose excess weight