Kidney Problems and Alkaline Foods

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Editor’s note:
Examining a new study about the relationship between Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and musculoskeletal pain. Advice about controlling the levels of uric acid, phosphorus and calcium is provided. 

Over 26 million in the United States have some form of chronic kidney disease (CKD), a progressive loss of kidney function that half the time is caused by high blood pressure or diabetes. Usually, CKD affects both kidneys and, if left untreated or undetected, may lead to a complete loss of kidney function – kidney failure – known as End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). ESRD is a life-threatening condition, since kidneys play a vital role in cleaning toxins from the blood, as well as provide important hormones for normal body function, and maintain normal fluid and blood pressure.

According to two new studies presented at the Kidney Week 2013, a higher dietary acid load is correlated with an increased risk of CKD progression, resulting in a loss of kidney function. The first study is of 1,486 adults with CKD who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III. Tanushree Banerjee, Ph.D., of the University of California San Francisco, and colleagues showed that a high dietary acid load was associated with
progression from CKD to ESRD.


This is one of the first longitudinal studies on the correlation of acidic foods and progression to kidney failure in a nationally representative
cohort. Kidney failure developed in 311 (20.9%) participants, with a median of follow-up duration being 14 yrs. The participants with the highest diet acid load were 8.56 times more likely and those with the middle load – 3.8 times more likely to suffer kidney failure than those with the lowest load.

In the second study, a Japanese research team led by Eiichiro Kanda, M.D., of Tokyo Kyosai Hospital, also found a correlation between high dietary acid load and the progression of CKD. The primary endpoint of their study, which included 249 elderly CKD patients (average age 70.6 years), was a 25% decline in eGFR or initiating dialysis. The researchers found that people with the higher dietary acid load were twice as likely to develop kidney failure as those with the lower load.

In other words, it is important to consume a balanced diet, low in acidity. Following is a sample list of alkaline dietary foods that may be helpful in slowing the progression of the kidney disease:

  • Blueberries rank the highest of any fruit by antioxidant content (those free-radical-fighting powerhouses), and one cup delivers 14% of the recommended
    daily dose of fiber and nearly a quarter of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C.
  • Collard Greens are low in calories (only 30 calories per 100 g) and contain no cholesterol. In addition, the green leaves contain a good amount of
    soluble and insoluble dietary fiber that helps control LDL cholesterol levels and offer protection against hemorrhoids, constipation, as well as
    colon cancer diseases.
  • Alfalfa sprouts are rich in saponins, chemical compounds believed to help lower bad (LDL) while maintaining good (HDL) cholesterol levels. The anti-inflammatory
    properties of saponins are believed to help prevent strokes and reduce the inflammatory processes in kidney disease.