Not protein but the source and quality of protein is very important to know if your kidneys are functioning properly or not. Animal proteins are harmful for the kidneys to such an extent that it can lead to a stage of kidney transplant whereas plant protein is extremely beneficial in preventing and reversing kidney damage. Kidneys are highly vascular organs and their main job is to remove toxins from our body. Kidneys are supposed to hold on to the proteins but if they fail to do so, one can see protein in their urine resulting in proteinuria which is a beginning of kidney damage. Our body can store excess fats but not excess proteins.
What does excess protein do?
The excess protein float around the blood stream until metabolized by the liver and removed by the kidneys. Nephrons are filtering units of kidney. When the excess proteins which has been floating in the blood stream comes across nephrons, they damage 25-50% of kidneys function but still 25% of kidney is active therefore kidney damage goes unnoticed. Protein in urine not only reflects health of the kidneys but also the overall health of our body that is blood vessels of heart, brain and eyes. The more the protein intake, the more the damage to your kidneys.
How does animal protein leads to kidney failure?
Animal protein not only alters the structure of the kidney but also increases the acid load on the kidneys which increases the production of ammonia to neutralise the acid but constant production of ammonia damages the sensitive kidney cells. It also leads to hyperfiltration i.e. increasing the workload of the kidneys, causing stress and leading to scarring of the kidney and kidney failure. Eating meat, for example increases the workload on kidneys within hours of consumption. These animal protein results in chronic inflammation, impaired blood flow and leakage of protein in urine i.e. proteinuria and thus loss of kidney function.
Does milk protein damages the kidney?
Milk protein successfully enters in our body through the walls of the intestinal tract. Once it’s in the bloodstream, antibodies attack them. These antibodies were actually produced by our immune system to attack viruses, bacteria and other foreign substance. The milk proteins and antibodies form complexes and later filtered out via kidneys. Once they are stuck in the kidney tissues it causes inflammation. These inflamed kidney cells causes leakage of protein and blood into urine leading to a condition called glomerulonephritis. Cow’s milk causes membranous nephropathy in children in the same way.
Which source of protein is beneficial if not milk and animal proteins?
Plant proteins form less acid as it contains less sulphur containing amino acids. Acid is produced by sulphur and since plant protein is less in sulphur therefore decreases the acid load on the kidneys. Since very less acid is produced, the ammonia produced does not buildup in the cells. Plant proteins does not increase the workload of the kidneys. For example, your work load on kidneys increases on consumption of meat while it is normal when you consume same amount of protein in the form of tofu. Plant proteins reduces the progression of kidney disease and death on an average by 33%-50%. It also keeps one away from going to the stage of dialysis and improves overall health. It reduces the cyst growth and improves lipid profile of the blood. To add to this, it also reduces the burden of financial costs incurred due to purchasing of expensive medicines for so long.
Take home message