With the rise in chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes, the risk of kidney disease has also increased significantly. Modern western diet adversely increases the cholesterol and bad fats in our body, which promotes atherosclerosis in the arteries of the kidney thus, resulting in kidney failure. Once you are diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, doctors prescribe medications to slow down the progression of the disease and these medications are usually for hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes which causes the kidney damage. But the fact is that, they are never really paying attention to the diet and may talk about it only when someone is in their pre-dialysis stage. Our kidneys filters around 200 quarts of our blood daily and removes 2 quarts of extra water and waste products out of which dietary proteins derived from animal sources like meat, poultry and dairy forms the primary waste products.
Importance of kidneys
The primary job of our kidneys is to filter out the “bad stuffs” like excess water, phosphorus, harmful toxins, drugs, metabolites, electrolytes out of your bloodstream and keep the good ones. Basically they detoxify our blood. So if they are damaged, the toxins build up and results in complications like high blood pressure, anemia, weak bones, heart disease and nerve damage.
Modern western diet increases the risk of chronic kidney diseases
A western-style dietary pattern that is high in saturated fats, processed foods and sweets is associated with declining kidney function. Consumption of processed meat and over consumption of red meat causes chronic inflammation in the kidneys, impairs the blood flow, causes leakage of proteins in urine and ultimately loss of kidney function. Hypertension and diabetes are also caused due to increased intake of processed food over a long span of time and they form the major risk factors for chronic kidney disease. So, we can see diet plays an important role and all chronic diseases are interrelated somehow via diet. Processed foods which are high in sodium and phosphates are again detrimental for our kidneys. Phosphate causes vascular damage and an imbalance with calcium leads to calcium deposition in the form of kidney stones.
Plant based nutrition dense diet not only improves but reverses the damage done to the kidneys
A healthy, plant based nutrition dense diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, cereals, whole grains, fiber and low in salt and refined sugars is beneficial for preserving and improving the function of our kidneys. It also helps in managing the blood sugar and hypertension which are the major causes of chronic kidney disease and thus an important step in keeping our kidneys healthy. Plant based foods are anti-inflammatory in nature and are high in antioxidants. It also boosts our immunity, protect us against toxins, infections, adverse medication effects, as well as the development of chronic diseases which contribute to kidney disease. The key diet for healthy kidneys is consumption of food which is low in sodium, phosphate, potassium, cholesterol, fat and high in fibers and antioxidants.
Take home message