Sticking to a Mediterranean-style diet may help protect kidney function, suggests new research.
The study linked eating plenty of fruit, vegetables, fish and “heart-healthy” fats with a decreased risk of developing chronic kidney disease.
Researchers found every one-point increase in a Mediterranean diet “score” was associated with a 17 per cent decreased likelihood of developing chronic kidney disease.
Eating habits that closely resembled the Mediterranean diet were linked with a 50 per cent reduced risk of developing chronic kidney disease, and a 42 per cent reduced risk of rapid kidney decline.
Chronic kidney disease is reaching epidemic levels and while there has been significant progress in protecting against kidney disease and its progression – through aggressive treatment of risk factors such as hypertension and diabetes – many people still experience declining kidney function as they age.
Doctor Minesh Khatri, of Columbia University Medical Centre in the United States, and his colleagues wondered whether an improved diet might provide extra benefits.
Dr Khatri said: “Many studies have found a favourable association between the Mediterranean diet and a variety of health outcomes, including those related to cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and cancer, among others.”
The Mediterranean diet includes higher consumption of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and heart-healthy fats, while minimising red meats, processed foods and sweets.
The researchers, whose findings are due to be published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, examined the associations of varying degrees of the Mediterranean diet on long-term kidney function.
Doctor Julie Lin, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the US, noted a Mediterranean-style diet is only one component of an overall healthy lifestyle.
She said: “Although a seemingly simple goal, achieving this is challenging. We need to begin by embracing the reality there is no magic pill or miracle food, only vigilance and discipline with diet and regular exercise, and the rare indulgence in cake for very special occasions.”
Chronic kidney disease is a long-term condition where the kidneys do not work effectively. It does not usually cause symptoms until an advanced stage. It is usually detected at earlier stages by blood and urine tests.
Symptoms include tiredness, swollen ankles and feet, and shortness of breath.