The typical Western diet, although changing in some communities, is still high in red and processed meats, saturated fats and sweets for a large portion of the population. Unfortunately, this diet is also associated with a number of health complaints. Diabetes, heart disease, and digestive ailments come quickly to mind. But now a research team has discovered another risk: a Western diet is also associated with an increased risk of kidney function decline.
A team of U.S. researchers investigated the effects of three different diets on kidney function: Western, “Prudent” and DASH. The Prudent diet includes plenty of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, poultry, and fish, according to the report, while the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension) diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy foods and is low in saturated fat, total fat, and cholesterol.
In all, the research team evaluated the kidney function of 3,121 women over 11 years. The women were participants in the Nurses’ Health Study. Each patient’s kidney function was assessed using two different methods: “estimated glomerular filtration rate” (eGFR), which measures how well the kidney filters blood; and testing for the presence of “microalbuminuria,” a urinary protein that is a marker of vascular disease and inflammation.
While the researchers found overall that the women in the study had well-functioning kidneys, they also found some interesting discrepancies. A Western diet was associated with increased levels of albuminuria and increased risk of rapid eGFR decline. This was not the case with the other diets.
Medical experts consider the kidneys a highly vascular organ, meaning it conducts and circulates fluid, such as blood. For this reason, the researchers weren’t surprised to find that the Western diet, which has been linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, is also associated with kidney function decline over time.
Now you have two good reasons to adopt a healthier diet. Fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean meat or fish, and healthy oils like olive oil are definitely the way to go for the health of all your organs. Without the proper functioning of even just one organ — such as your kidneys — you’re guaranteed to experience symptoms that will likely affect the quality of your life and cause you personal suffering.