Can Kidney Damage Be Reversed By Eating Fat?

Reversing Kidney Damage

In the past it’s been shown eating a diet that lowers blood sugar can prevent kidney failure in diabetic patients -- but not reverse it. Now a new diet-based study offers the promise that a high fat “ketogenic” diet may actually reverse the kidney damage caused by diabetes. This is news that could change the lives of tens of thousands of Americans.

Inside our kidney are millions of tiny blood vessels that act as filters. Their job is to remove waste products from the blood. Diabetes can damage the kidneys and cause them to fail. Failing kidneys lose their ability to filter out waste products, resulting in kidney disease.

The new research was conducted at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. It showed that mice who were fed a high-fat diet of 5% carbohydrate, 8% protein and a whopping 87% fat -- were the first to show dietary intervention alone is enough to reverse kidney failure caused by diabetes.  

Medical experts say that this finding is significant because it could affect everyone diagnosed with diabetic kidney failure. But it’s not an easy cure. Following a ketogenic diet is tough to do. An average week might include over a quart of heavy cream, a stick and a half of butter, 13 teaspoons of coconut oil, 20 slices of bacon and 9 eggs. That’s just breakfasts.

The authors of the study agree that a ketogenic diet is an extreme solution for adult patients. But they suggest just a temporary exposure to the diet might be enough to “reset” the condition. Scientists are hoping the new research works. For now, once kidneys fail, dialysis is necessary. Eventually the patient must choose whether to continue with dialysis or to get a kidney transplant. Doctors also stress the importance of keeping tight control over blood pressure as an important treatment for kidney disease. Blood pressure has a dramatic effect on the rate at which the disease progresses. Even a mild rise in pressure can quickly make kidney disease worsen. Four ways to lower your blood pressure are losing weight, eating less salt, avoiding alcohol and tobacco, and getting regular exercise. Be sure to talk with your doctor about these new findings if you’re interested in this new research – it is still in the early stages. Robin Westen is ThirdAge’s medical reporter. Check for her daily updates. See what others have to say about this story or leave a comment of your own.
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