Mediterranean Diet and Kidney Disease

Our kidneys filter toxins, salts, minerals and other substances from our blood to maintain the proper chemical levels in our blood and organs. Patients with kidney disease must watch the types of foods they eat to prevent an excess of protein, sodium, potassium and phosphorus from building up in the body. New research into diet and Chronic Kidney Disease, or CKD, shows that the Mediterranean Diet can increase longevity of CKD patients. It can also play a role in helping renal patients avoid CKD.

The Mediterranean diet has been prescribed for patients with cardiovascular problems for years. The diet’s use of monosaturated, or healthy, fats combined with its emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat dairy promote a healthy cardiovascular system. Now doctors are looking into whether the Mediterranean Diet can benefit patients with kidney disease.


Recently, researchers in Sweden studied 1,110 men, approximately half of which had CKD. Researchers tracked these men and rated their adherence to the Mediterranean Diet. They then followed these men for an average of 9.9 years. Men who were diligent in eating the Mediterranean foods were 42 percent less likely to have kidney disease. While patients with CKD who followed the diet did die during the study, researchers found the mortality risk decreased 18 percent with increased adherence. Since both CKD and cardiovascular disease have similar risk factors, renal specialists are encouraged by these results.

Currently, most dietary modifications for CKD patients involve reducing proteins to improve renal function. With its heavy focus on vegetables, fruits, whole grains and fish it holds promise for patients with CKD and those hoping to prevent it. A second study in New York analyzed the results of 3,300 patients and used a scoring system to determine how closely participants followed the Mediterranean Diet. During the study 900 ethnically diverse patients were followed specifically for kidney function in relation to the diet. During the study period, 14 percent of patients developed CKD. It was noted that these individuals did not closely follow the diet.

While further study needs to be conducted, following the Mediterranean Diet appears to reduce the risk of developing CKD. Patients with kidney issues should consult with their renal specialist before beginning any diet program to ensure it will meet their individual needs.

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