A new study has uncovered a link between plant-based diets and kidney health. The finding, which appears in an upcoming issue of CJASN, indicates that consuming a diet based on nutrient-rich plants may help protect against the development of chronic kidney disease (CKD).
The consumption of plant-based diets is becoming more common for ethical, environmental, and health reasons. The quality of plant sources of food can differ, however, with nutrient-rich plants being more healthful and plants that are high in refined carbohydrates being less healthful.
Emerging evidence suggests that the risk of chronic conditions varies by types of plant-based diets. To evaluate the associations between plant-based diets and the development of CKD in a general population, a team led by Hyunju Kim and Casey M. Rebholz, PhD (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health) analyzed information on 14,686 middle-aged adults enrolled in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study.
Among the major findings:
- During a median follow-up of 24 years, 4,343 new cases of CKD occurred.
- Participants with the highest adherence to a healthy plant-based diet had a 14% lower risk of developing CKD than participants with the lowest adherence to a healthy plant-based diet.
- Participants with the highest adherence to a less healthy plant-based diet had an 11% higher risk of developing CKD than participants with the lowest adherence to a less healthy plant-based diet.
- The association between plant-based diets and CKD risk was especially pronounced for participants who had a normal weight at the start of the study.
- Higher adherence to an overall plant-based diet and a healthy plant-based diet was associated with slower kidney function decline.
“For kidney disease risk, it appears to be important to choose healthy options for plant sources of food, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes,” said Dr. Rebholz. “Also, our finding of a significant interaction by weight status at baseline suggests that following a healthy eating pattern may be particularly beneficial before becoming overweight or obese.”