Our kidneys are highly vascular organs. That’s why when you see kidneys in the meat case they look so red. After all, our two little kidneys have to filter through our entire blood supply and as such receive about 20% of our cardiac output every time our heart beats. So if the standard American diet can be so toxic to the blood vessels in our heart, back, abdomen, and pelvis, contributing to heart attacks (Heart Attacks and Cholesterol: Purely a Question of Diet), spinal disc degeneration (Cholesterol and Lower Back Pain), aneurisms (Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms: Ticking Time Balloons), and sexual dysfunction (Cholesterol and Female Sexual Dysfunction), what might it be doing to our kidneys?
In my 2-min. video, Preventing Kidney Failure Through Diet, I profile a recent Harvard study putting that question to the test. Thousands of women, their diets, and their kidney function were followed for a decade. The researchers found three significant risk factors for declining kidney function in these women; none of which come as a surprise given that we’re talking about clogged and inflamed blood vessels: animal protein, animal fat, and cholesterol. All three of these risk factors are only found in animal-based foods. No such association was found for plant protein or plant fat.
Failing kidneys can be a canary in a coal mine, informing us about the health of our blood vessels. Quoting from the Harvard study, “modest decrements in kidney function are powerfully associated with subsequent overt kidney disease, cardiovascular risk, and all-cause mortality,” meaning a shortened lifespan. “In summary, diets lower in animal protein, animal fat, and cholesterol may be protective” against this kind of kidney damage.
What if the damage has already been done, and you’re already suffering from chronic renal failure? That’s the subject of today’s NutritionFacts.org video pick featured above.
This is another reason why Plant Protein is Preferable. Food is, after all, a package deal. In addition to kidney failure, plant based diets can help prevent and treat diabetes, prevent and treat COPD, prevent and treat arthritis, prevent and treat cancer, prevent and treat heart disease, and prevent and treat obesity. Why, then, don’t more providers in the medical community embrace plant-based diets? Part of the reason may be The Tomato Effect.
Michael Greger, M.D.
Image credit: Dr Michel Royon / Wikimedia Commons