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Aug 20, 2013

Healthy Diet Protects Diabetic Patients against Kidney Disease

Study finds that a well-balanced diet reduces chronic kidney disease risk in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Kidney disease is one of the most common complications associated with diabetes, affecting as many as 40% of patients with type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes, which occurs when the body fails to use insulin properly, can damage the kidneys over time and inhibit their ability to filter out waste, resulting in chronic kidney disease. Fortunately, something as simple as maintaining a balanced diet could protect diabetic patients from kidney disease, according to a recent study.

Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, this study followed roughly 6,200 patients with type 2 diabetes for more than five years, tracking both their health and diet. At the start of the study, each participant completed a detailed food questionnaire, answering questions about their overall diet as well as alcohol, protein and sodium intake. Researchers then tracked participants’ health to see if and how kidney disease developed and progressed in subjects.

After five-and-a-half years, nearly one-third of participants developed chronic kidney disease and about 8% died. Researchers found that those with “healthy” diets were significantly less likely to develop kidney disease and had lower risk of death, compared with patients who had less healthy diets. And as they looked more deeply into subjects’ diets, researchers found that moderate alcohol intake, high meat consumption and eating at least three pieces of fruit a week helped lower risk for kidney disease. Interestingly, eating a moderate amount of meat had no impact on kidney disease risk, nor did sodium consumption.

Findings are encouraging for the 25.8 million Americans currently living with diabetes. Although diabetes greatly increases risk for kidney disease, lifestyle changes can make a big difference in preventing or, at the very least, slowing the progression of this disease. A balanced diet is already important for patients with diabetes, as it aids in blood sugar control and promotes better health, and this study provides yet another key reason why diabetic patients should make it a point to maintain a healthy diet.

Questions for You to Consider

  • What is kidney disease?
  • Chronic kidney disease (CKD) occurs when kidneys become damaged and unable to do their jobs properly. CKD can slowly develop over a long period of time, and is often caused by diabeteshigh blood pressure and other health conditions. Early detection and treatment can help slow disease progression and keep CKD from getting worse.
  • How are diabetes and chronic kidney disease related?
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease, accounting for roughly 44% of kidney failure cases in the United States each year. Patients with diabetes should work closely with their doctor to monitor their kidney function and take steps to help reduce risk for developing chronic kidney disease, like by eating healthy and controlling blood sugar levels.

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