Lower-carb and lower-sugar diet could extend life for people with chronic kidney disease

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A new study, published in the journal Renal Failure, suggests that a lower-carbohydrate and lower-sugar diet could extend life expectancy for adults with chronic kidney disease (CKD).

The research indicates that replacing carbohydrates with protein and/or substituting sugar with non-sugar carbohydrates appears to reduce mortality risk for these patients.

Current guidelines by the World Health Organization recommend a low fat/low carbohydrate diet with protein as the primary energy source for the general population.

However, the same guidelines recommend a low protein diet for CKD patients due to the concern that high levels of protein might worsen kidney function. CKD affects about 15% of the population in the U.K. and U.S.

The study, led by Qidong Ren of Peking Union Medical College Hospital, China, investigated the relationships between macronutrient intake (fat, protein, and carbohydrate) and all-cause mortality in 3,683 adult CKD patients in the U.S.

The researchers discovered that CKD patients who derived 30%–45% of their energy from carbohydrates (as opposed to 60%), and 5%–20% from sugar (as opposed to 40%), had a lower mortality risk.

An iso-caloric replacement analysis further revealed that replacing carbohydrates with protein (up to 30%) and/or sugar with non-sugar carbohydrates (up to 55%) lowered all-cause mortality risk, while keeping total energy intake constant.

The study suggests a shift in dietary recommendations for CKD patients may be warranted.

Rather than adhering strictly to a low-protein diet, CKD patients might benefit from a diet lower in carbohydrates and sugars but slightly higher in protein.

Qidong Ren emphasizes that “dietary advice to CKD patients should be customized according to their current diet structure, especially focusing on the percentage of carbohydrate and sugar/non-sugar carbohydrate intake.”

However, the study’s authors also note that more extensive, long-term studies with larger sample sizes are required to fully confirm the effect of a high-protein diet in CKD patients.

Nonetheless, these preliminary findings could have significant implications for CKD dietary management strategies.

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The research findings can be found in Renal Failure.

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