Healthy diet ‘slashes the risk of chronic kidney disease by 30%’

Opting for fruit, vegetables and fish over processed meats, salt and fizzy drinks ‘may slash your risk of getting kidney disease by 30%’

  • Scientists analysed the diets of more than 630,000 people over a decade 
  • Found legumes, whole grains and low-fat dairy also reduced the risk
  • Healthy diet lowered risk of albuminuria, an early sign of kidney damage, by 23%

Following a healthy diet may reduce your risk of suffering kidney disease, research suggests.

Scientists at Bond University in Australia analysed the dietary habits of more than 630,000 people over a decade.

They found those who opted for fruit, vegetables and fish over processed meats, salt and fizzy drinks were 30 per cent less likely to develop chronic kidney disease (CKD).

The incurable condition can range from a mild, symptom-less disorder to kidney failure, where the organs do not work at all.  

Eating a healthy diet may reduce the risk of kidney disease, research suggests (stock)

‘These results add to the accumulating evidence supporting the potential benefit of adhering to a healthy dietary pattern,’ lead author Dr Jaimon Kelly said.

‘These results may assist in developing public health prevention programs for CKD, which may assist in reducing the burden of the disease.’ 

To reduce the risk of complications, the NHS recommends CKD patients eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, while limiting saturated fat, sugar and salt.

However, it was unclear whether a healthy diet could prevent the disease developing in the first place.

The scientists analysed 18 studies on the subject with a total of 630,108 participants, who were followed for an average of 10.4 years.

Healthy eating was defined as higher intakes of fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains, fish and low-fat dairy, with low processed meats, salt or sugary drinks.

Results revealed eating well reduced the participants’ risk of CKD. It also lowered their odds of albuminuria, an early sign of kidney damage, by 23 per cent. 

Albuminuria occurs when the protein albumin is in the urine. The protein plays an important role in building muscle, repairing tissue and fighting infections.

Its presence in urine suggests the kidneys are not filtering the blood properly, allowing albumin to ‘leak’ into urine.

The researchers suggest people who follow the Mediterranean or DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet may reap the benefits. 

The latter is made up of lots of fruit, vegetables and low-fat dairy, with minimal saturated fat. 

Writing in an accompanying editorial in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, experts stress further research is required.

‘Randomised clinical trials with sufficient follow-up time to ascertain meaningful kidney outcomes are necessary to determine whether a change in dietary patterns is causally related to favorable kidney health outcomes,’ they said.

‘Meanwhile, there may be sufficient observational evidence for clinicians to emphasise the importance of healthy dietary patterns to individuals who are healthy or who are at risk of developing CKD.’ 

More than 1.8 million people in the UK have been diagnosed with CKD, NHS statistics show. Around a million sufferers are also thought to be undiagnosed. 

The condition affects around 14 per cent of people in the US to some extent, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. 

CKD is often caused by other conditions that put a strain on the kidneys, like high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.

Long-term use of medication like the anti-psychotic lithium and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may also be to blame. 


Chronic kidney disease (CKD), also called chronic kidney failure, describes the gradual loss of kidney function. 

Our kidneys filter out waste products and excess fluids from the blood before they are excreted through urine. They also help maintain blood pressure.

As CKD advances, the kidneys do not function properly and dangerous levels of waste build up in your body.

The risk of CKD increases as you age. It is also more common among Asians and blacks.

CKD does not usually cause any symptoms until it has reached an advanced stage. It can be detected early on via blood and urine tests.

Symptoms include: 

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Sleep problems
  • Changes in how much you urinate
  • Decreased mental sharpness
  • Muscle twitches and cramps
  • Swelling of feet and ankles
  • Persistent itching
  • Chest pain, if fluid builds up around the lining of the heart
  • Shortness of breath, if fluid builds up in the lungs
  • High blood pressure that is difficult to control

Those with the condition have a greater risk of having a stroke or heart attack. It can also cause kidney failure, when sufferers will need to have dialysis or a possible transplant.

However, lifestyle changes and medication can stop the disease from getting worse if it is diagnosed at an early stage.

To reduce your risk:  

  • Follow instructions for over-the-counter medications. Taking too many pain relievers can lead to kidney damage
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking cigarettes can cause kidney damage 

Source: Mayo Clinic

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