High protein diets don't affect kidney function in healthy people

November 5, 2018 in Healthy Eating, Nutrition Topics in the News

High protein diets don't affect kidney function in healthy people

A widely held and controversial belief that high-protein diets may cause kidney damage in healthy adults has been debunked by scientists at McMaster University in Canada, who examined more than two dozen studies involving hundreds of participants. 

The new review of published studies challenges the perceived dangers of a protein-rich diet, a notion first introduced in the 1980s which suggested processing large amounts of protein leads to a progressive decline in kidney function over time. 

"It's a concept that's been around for at least 50 years and you hear it all the time: higher protein diets cause kidney disease," says Dr. Stuart Phillips, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster who oversaw the study. 

"The fact is, however, that there's just no evidence to support this hypothesis in fact, the evidence shows the contrary is true: higher protein increases, not decreases, kidney function”.

Health experts routinely advocate the benefits of protein for many reasons: it boosts metabolism, increases satiety making one feel fuller for longer, promotes fat loss, helps build muscle during weight training and helps to preserves muscle, particularly in the elderly. 

However, the impact of protein on kidney function is much more contentious, particularly its effect on the glomerular filtration rate (GFR), which is a test to measure how well the kidneys filter blood and remove waste. 

The researchers analyzed data from 28 papers dating from 1975 to 2016, examining the effects of a low/normal protein intake versus higher protein diets on GFR in health individuals. 

The findings of the new study show that a higher protein diet is safe and in fact, could be viewed as an important tool for muscle health across an entire lifespan.

Source: Journal of Nutrition, November 1, 2018.

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