THURSDAY, Dec. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Eating a vegetarian diet
lowers kidney disease patients' levels of potentially toxic
phosphorus in the blood and urine, says a small new study.
Kidney disease patients have to limit their intake of
phosphorous -- which is found in dietary proteins and is a common
food additive -- because their bodies have difficulty ridding
themselves of the mineral. In these patients, high levels of
phosphorus can lead to heart disease and death.
This study examined the effects of vegetarian and meat-based
diets on phosphorous levels in nine patients with chronic kidney
disease (CKD). Each patient ate a vegetarian or meat-based diet for
one week and then waited two to four weeks before eating the other
diet for a week.
The researchers conducted blood and urine tests at the end of
each week on both diets. Even though the two diets had equivalent
protein and phosphorus concentrations, patients had lower blood and
urine phosphorus levels after they ate the vegetarian diet.
The investigators didn't examine the reasons for this
difference, but they noted that a grain-based diet has a lower
phosphate-to-protein ratio and much of the phosphate is in the form
of phytate, which is not absorbed in humans.
The findings show that the source of protein in a diet has a
major effect on phosphorous levels in chronic kidney disease
patients, concluded Dr. Sharon Moe, Indiana University School of
Medicine and Roudebush Veterans' Affairs Medical Center, and
"These results, if confirmed in longer studies, provide rationale for recommending a predominance of grain-based vegetarian sources of protein to patients with CKD. This diet would allow increased protein intake without adversely affecting phosphorus levels," they wrote in a news release.
The study appears online Dec. 23 in the
Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about
chronic kidney disease.