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January 18, 2020 4 min read

How are high-protein diet involved in kidney health?

With the growing popularity ofahigher-protein diet, health and nutrition specialistshave dedicated themselves to investigating the effects of this diet on health, and especially on the myth about the influence of the high protein diet on kidney health. 

The kidneys represent the excretory system of the organism; its function is to filter waste and residual substances product of all physiological processes that occur daily in the body.

The renal filtrate is quantifiable by the glomerular filtration rate; this estimate allows us to know the integrity of the renal function.

The glomerular filtration rate is measured in ml/ min/m² (body surface area). This rate is naturally reduced throughout the life of cellular aging and the decrease in nephrons.

Excessive protein consumption increases the glomerular filtration rate, but the high-protein diet is only contraindicated in older adults with decreased renal function or adults with undiagnosed kidney diseases.

Diets high in protein are not exclusively a trend; this feeding model is really beneficial for diabetics; people who have suffered severe burns or suffer from diseases that affect muscle density, such as malnutrition. (1)


Myths about high-protein diet and kidney health

Myth: A High Protein Intake Damages the Kidney

Science is constantly changing, so a few years ago, it was believed that high protein consumption caused a progressive deterioration of function; the truth is that research has disproven this myth.

A study conducted in 2010 related to high-protein intake in athletes and its possible damage to renal function, athletes, consumed on average 2.8 grams of protein per kg of their weight daily, the results showed that athletes had normal albumin values, urea, and creatine, as well as a completely normal and healthy renal function. (2)

Protein requirements vary according to sex and daily activities performed. A study conducted in the female population found that there was no relationship between high protein intake and kidney function damage, the study only showed that high protein intake could affect you if your kidney function was previously impaired. (3)

It is not proven that the intake of large amounts of protein is not harmful to kidney health. A medical check-up and specialized nutritional guidance are recommended before starting a high-protein diet to ensure your health and the effectiveness of the diet.


Myth: Excess Protein Causes Liver Damage

Somehow a high protein consumption has been linked to a deterioration of liver function; it is important to know the main liver functions and thus understand the origin of this myth.

The liver is responsible for the synthesis of plasma proteins such as albumin and the transformation of proteins into fatty acids such as triglycerides and cholesterol while producing bile, a substance secreted by the gallbladder to favor the digestion of fat.

The liver is the great metabolizing organ of the body since from the liver numerous substances such as drugs are metabolized, due to this the indispensable role that the liver plays for life is undoubted.

Being the liver so important, is it possible that the high-protein diet can harm you?

The answer is no, according to a study conducted in 2014, healthy athletes were subjected to a daily intake of 2.7g of protein per kg of weight for approximately four weeks and simultaneously performed high-intensity strength training, the results obtained showed that then of an analysis of renal, hepatic and immune function they found no alteration that indicated impairment of their state of health and sports performance. (4)


Myth: Diets High in Protein Means You Will Grow Huge Muscles

It is true that to obtain muscle growth, it is necessary that you consume adequate levels of protein; however, if you do not exercise properly, you will not build muscle tissue.

The main substrate for muscle synthesis is protein, but to obtain muscle growth and definition, it is necessary that you practice strength exercises that allow a break in muscle fibers and subsequent hypertrophy; in these cases, you need a greater consumption of proteins to meet the needs of muscle regeneration.

Performing strength exercises will guarantee that your body uses protein for muscle building. 

 

 

Are high high-protein diets really healthy?

Due to the myths surrounding high-protein diets, people often consume protein levels well below their basic needs. This in the long term intervenes with many metabolic functions of the body such as cell growth and regeneration.

Numerous studies agree that the high-protein diet brings many health benefits such as better weight control, greater satiety, and better sports performance.

If you are planning to make a long-term high-protein diet, you can ask your doctor for an appropriate evaluation of kidney function to make sure you stay healthy; you also need to have complete information on how many grams of protein you should consume daily.


Is a high-protein diet nutritionally complete?

Although it reduces the supply of nutrients, a high-protein diet is complete nutritional, since all food groups are included to a greater or lesser extent, and also uses varied techniques for the preparation of these foods.

Although the diet prioritizes protein-rich foods of animal origin, it is also important to consider those vegetable foods rich in protein. Plant-based foods with higher protein content are: textured soy, which provides up to 50 grams of protein per 100 grams of product; nuts such as almonds (21.1g / 100g), nuts (15.2g / 100g), hazelnuts (15g / 100g); oatmeal; tofu (8-12 g / 100g) and legumes such as lentils, chickpeas and cooked beans (8.5-9g / 100g)


References

  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16174292
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10722779
  • https://annals.org/aim/article-abstract/716162/impact-protein-intake-renal-function-decline-women-normal-renal-function
  • https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-11-20

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