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DASH Diet May Help Reduce Risk of Kidney Disease

A recent study suggests that a diet called DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), which was designed to reduce blood pressure, may also significantly reduce the risk of chronic kidney disease.


The researchers examined data from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, which included 15,792 participants who were middle-aged in 1987. The study included more than 20 years of follow-up. In two visits early on in the study, all of the participants filled out a 66-item food frequency questionnaire, which included questions about how often they had eaten each food item and the portion size over the previous year.


The researchers did not instruct the participants on how to eat but instead scored all of them based on how closely their diets matched the DASH diet. They also tracked which participants developed kidney disease by determining kidney function using blood tests of glomerular filtration rate, as well as which participants had kidney disease-related hospitalization or death or end-stage kidney disease resulting in transplant or dialysis.


After examining the data, the researchers determined that people with the lowest DASH diet scores were 16% more likely to develop kidney disease than those with the highest DASH scores. They also found that people with the highest intake of red and processed meats were 22% more likely to develop chronic kidney disease than those with the lowest intake. The participants with the highest intake of nuts and legumes were 9% less likely to develop kidney disease than those with the lowest intake. Finally, participants of a normal weight who followed the DASH diet were less likely to develop kidney disease than overweight or obese participants.


Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on August 9, 2016, in the American Journal of Kidney Disease.


The DASH diet is high in nuts and legumes, low-fat dairy, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables and low in red and processed meat, sugar-sweetened drinks, and sodium. Studies suggest that it may also help reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, heart failure, kidney stones, and diabetes and might also help with weight loss. As always, when considering a major change in diet, speak with your health care practitioner for best practices.

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