In a study from Johns Hopkins, scientists found people who ate a diet high in nuts and legumes, low-fat dairy, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables and low in red and processed meat, sugar-sweetened beverages and sodium were at a much lower risk of developing chronic kidney disease.
The diet, known as DASH for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, was designed to help reduce blood pressure.
But research has shown it to be effective in preventing a series of other chronic illnesses including heart disease. The current findings suggest that kidney disease now can be added to that list.
In the study, the team examined records from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study, which in 1987 began following a group of 15,792 middle-aged adults for more than 20 years.
The participants were not instructed what to eat, but rather their adherence to a DASH-style diet was later categorized into a score based on low intake of red and processed meat, sweetened beverages and sodium; and high intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes, and low-fat dairy.
The researchers found that participants with the lowest DASH diet scores (those who ate few foods such as fruits, vegetables and nuts, and consumed more red meat and sodium) were 16 percent more likely to develop kidney disease than those with the highest DASH scores (those who ate more of the healthier foods and less of the unhealthy items).
Those who had the highest intake of red and processed meats were at a 22 percent higher risk of developing chronic kidney disease than those with the lowest intake of those foods.
Those with the highest intake of nuts and legumes were at a 9 percent lower risk of developing kidney disease than those with the lowest intake.
The team says the reason that DASH-style diets appear to stave off kidney disease may be that it is known to reduce blood pressure; hypertension has been linked to kidney disease.
Another possibility could be related to the “dietary acid load” in the foods people eat or the overall acidity of the foods in a diet.
The researchers also found that normal-weight participants who followed a DASH diet were less likely to develop kidney disease than overweight or obese participants.
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The study was conducted by Casey M. Rebholz et al and published in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases.
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