Consumption of Plant-Based Proteins Linked to Decreased Risk of Kidney Disease

Human Kidneys and Adrenal Glands Anatomy Illustration

The intake of more plant proteins is linked to a lowered risk of developing chronic kidney disease, according to a comprehensive study using UK Biobank Study data.

Recent years have seen a growing focus on the health advantages of plant-based diets. Known to provide a myriad of health benefits, including a lowered risk of heart issues and certain cancers, plant-based diets have become the talk of the town. However, the connection between plant protein intake and the risk of chronic kidney disease (CKD) has remained a bit murky.

A recent study led by Ga Young Heo has shed new light on this relationship. The comprehensive research, based on the UK Biobank Study data, meticulously investigated the association between plant protein consumption and the onset of CKD.

The study tracked 117,809 participants who had successfully completed at least one dietary questionnaire and met specific health standards, ruling out any prior history of CKD. Over an average follow-up duration of nearly ten years, CKD occurred in 3,745 participants. The findings showed that individuals with higher plant protein intake faced a notably lower risk of developing CKD compared to those with lower intake levels. Those consuming more plant protein showed a consistent decrease in the risk of CKD, with the risk decreasing as plant protein intake increased.

Association of Plant Protein Intake With Risk of Incident CKD Visual Abstract

Visual abstract of the research. Credit: AJKD 2023

Over a median follow-up duration of 9.9 years, the findings were revealing. CKD incidentally occurred in 3,745 participants. When the data was analyzed, it was observed that those with higher plant protein intake faced a considerably lower risk of developing CKD compared to those with lower intake. Specifically, participants with increased plant protein intake had a 10% to 18% reduced risk of CKD.

Despite the undeniable association between higher plant protein intake and reduced CKD risk, the study has limitations. The UK Biobank Study primarily hinges on participants’ self-reported dietary habits, which may not always be comprehensive or entirely accurate. Furthermore, the characteristics of the participants in the UK Biobank Study might not be wholly representative, potentially limiting the broader applicability of these findings.

Nevertheless, the study’s conclusions are promising. The research by Ga Young Heo and the team points to the protective properties of plant protein against CKD. This revelation underscores the importance of dietary intervention in primary care settings, emphasizing the potential benefits of a plant-based diet on kidney health.

While the findings are a significant step forward, further interventional studies will be crucial in affirming the kidney-protective benefits of plant protein intake.

Reference: “Association of Plant Protein Intake With Risk of Incident CKD: A UK Biobank Study” by Ga Young Heo, Hee Byung Koh, Hyo Jeong Kim, Kyung Won Kim, Chan Young Jung, Hyung Woo Kim, Tae Ik Chang, Jung Tak Park, Tae-Hyun Yoo, Shin-Wook Kang and Seung Hyeok Han, 28 July 2023, American Journal of Kidney Diseases.
DOI: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2023.05.007

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