Vegetarian diet better for kidney disease

Dec. 27, 2010 at 11:08 PM
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INDIANAPOLIS, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- A U.S. doctor says phosphorus levels stay lower in kidney disease patients who eat a vegetarian diet.

Dr. Sharon Moe of Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis says patients with kidney disease cannot rid their bodies of phosphorus - and need to watch their intake of the mineral found in proteins because high levels can cause heart disease -- but phosphorus content is not listed on food labels.

Moe and colleagues asked nine patients with chronic kidney disease to follow either a vegetarian or meat-based diet for one week, followed by the opposite diet two-to four weeks later. Blood and urine tests were performed at the end of each week on both diets.

The study, scheduled to be published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society Nephrology, found study patients eating proteins from vegetables had lower blood phosphorus levels and decreased phosphorus excretion vs. those eating a meat-based diet. This was true despite both diets having equivalent levels of proteins and phosphorous.

"These results, if confirmed in longer studies, provide rationale for recommending a predominance of grain-based vegetarian sources of protein to patients with chronic kidney disease," the study researchers say in a statement.

The findings suggest protein sources may be more important than amounts and allow increases in protein intake, Moe says.

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