Is Red Meat the Kidney’s Greatest Enemy?

Among the numerous foods that have been shown to worsen Kidney problems, red meat is considered one of the worst offenders. Although current guidelines state that limiting protein consumption can help delay the progression of Kidney problems, more research needs to be done to understand why.

That’s what makes “Red Meat Intake and Risk of ESRD*,” a 2016 study published by the Journal of American Society of Nephrology, especially exciting. During a 15 and a half year examination of 63,257 Chinese adults from Singapore, researchers collected “habitual diet information via a validated semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire and identified ESRD via record linkage with a nationwide registry” (abstract, p.304). The questionnaire also took into account other harmful activities like smoking, not exercising, and drinking to weed out inconsistencies within the data.

 
 

The results were shocking.  At the end of the study, researchers found pretty conclusively that red meat consumption did, in fact, increase the risk of developing end-stage renal problems. The higher the red meat intake, the more likely they were to develop these issues. They also concluded that other non-red meat protein sources such as poultry, fish, eggs, or dairy products seemed not to affect (p.306)

Thanks to the study, we have some preventive measures now. Soy and legumes seem to have a protective effect on the kidneys, and red meat substitution with another protein (at least one daily serving) can reduce end-stage renal disease risk by as much as 62%. (p. 308)

Overall, the study seems to echo the consensus that higher red meat consumption results in greater impairment to Kidney function. Those with high risks of developing Kidney illness or those suffering from it should find an alternate source of protein- preferably through a vegetarian diet. However, if they resist this dietary change, fish and poultry are much better options than red meat. 

*Final stage of CKD

Works Cited

Lew, Q. J., Jafar, T. H., Koh, H. W., Jin, A., Chow, K. Y., Yuan, J., & Koh, W. (2016). Red Meat Intake and Risk of ESRD. Journal of the American Society of Nephrology,28(1), 304-312. doi:10.1681/asn.2016030248

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