Preventing Kidney Failure With Diet

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 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.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

Image credit: Dr Michel Royon / Wikimedia Commons

Paula Deen’s Diabetes: A Deep-Fried Drug Endorsement
Dietary Sexual Dysfunction
Medical Establishment Resistance: The Tomato Effect


Fi T.
Past Member 1 years ago

Watch out our lifestyle

Knut Franckenstein
Knut F5 years ago

Become a Vegan and you can live a more responsible life for both yourself and your environment -l)

Dale Overall

People have been eating meat for eons without problems. These days we have too many toxins, factory farmed meat filled with antibiotics/hormones unlike healthy organic meat. Foods, not simply factory farm meat are so full of chemical preservatives as well. Portion sizes far too large, the size of a deck of cards is realistic not steak overflowing off the plate.

Even veggies and fruit are dangerous if covered with pesticides and the genetically modified veggies are frightening. Shelves in the stores filled with nutrient stripped boxed rice, white bread, you name it! Getting back to basics where foods are organic will result in less stress on the kidneys.

Don't over do the dandelion wine either.

Dale Overall

While we are on the topic, let us not forget pets and their kidneys. A lot of the commercial foods are terrible for pet health! Feeding your cat or dog a diet of straight dry food can cut years off the animal's life. The same with feeding canned food where the first ingredient is "meat byproducts". There is of course no meat in byproducts, this consists of what is left after the meat is pulled off the bone. Feathers, beaks...intestines. Pets have kidneys too! Also, no vegan diets for cats as they are obligate carnivores and must eat meat.

heather g.
heather g5 years ago

Dr Greger the info you provide is always valuable.
In this case using comparisons which we can all easily understand.

My only hope is that all Care2 members read your articles ....

ii q.
g d c5 years ago


Erin Kathleen
Erin Walden5 years ago

Fascinating, I look forward to learning more and changing my diet!

Michele Mihlack
Michele Mihlack5 years ago

Very interesting and informative, wish I knew this many years ago...

Michele Mihlack
Michele Mihlack5 years ago

Very interesting and informative...wished I knew this many years ago...

Lin Moy
Lin M5 years ago

Thanks for this posting.