“Treating Kidney Failure Through Diet” One of the important functions
of our kidneys is to filter out excess phosphorus from our bloodstream. And so, when our kidney function declines, phosphorus can build up in our bodies, and cause something called
metastatic calcification— where your heart valves, and muscles,
and other parts of your body can build up calcium deposits,
and eventually result in skin necrosis, gangrene amputations;
all sorts of bad stuff. So, if a person has
diminished kidney function, their doctor will likely put them on a
low-phosphate diet, which is tough, because basically everything
with protein has phosphorus. So, both plant foods and
animal foods have phosphorus. But when omnivores have been compared
to those eating vegan, “Vegans had significantly [less protein
leaking out into their urine]”— a sign of intact kidney function. So while they concluded that, “These results can confirm the usefulness
of vegetarianism here and support the use of a vegan diet for [the]
patients with [kidney] failure,” maybe it was just because the omnivores
were getting “a higher protein load.” And we know that lower protein diets appear to delay the
progression of kidney failure. So, did the plant based diet help
because they were eating less protein, or because the body somehow
is able to handle plant protein better than animal protein? Now to figure that out, you’d have to
split people into two groups— half on a vegetarian diet, half not,
with the critical caveat to make sure both groups eat the
exact same amount of protein, and the exact same amount of phosphorus. And that’s what researchers did. Published recently in the Journal
of the American Society of Nephrology, they took vegetarians,
and put them on a meat diet, and then took meat-eaters,
and put them on a vegetarian diet. Even though phosphorus and protein intake
were kept the same in both diet groups, here’s the level of phosphorus stuck in
the bloodstream of those on the meat diet, compared to those on the veg diet. So, there’s just something about
plant foods that enables our bodies to better handle their phosphorus content. The same amount of phosphorus, but plant phosphorus appears easier
to cleanse away from our body. Positive results have been seen
even with semi-vegetarian diets, but the reason the new study
“observed more dramatic differences… after only 1 week, [was] perhaps
because of the pure vegetarian diets used in [this] study. Taken together, a vegetarian-based diet
may be beneficial for the control of phosphorus [balance] in patients
with [chronic kidney disease].”