Hands-down, one of the most popular diet trends over the past two decades can be summed up in one word…
Yup, at this point after all of the news reports, articles, social media posts, celebrity endorsements and more, a person would have to be living under a rock not to have heard the advice that if you want to look and feel better you have to cut your carbs and up your protein intake.
But, is that good advice for everyone?
Or, could that blanket approach to better health be causing even more problems than it prevents for some of us?
A new paper by kidney experts based on two separate scientific studies has the frightening answer…
Saving calories while risking kidney health
The first study, performed in the Netherlands found that there is a direct, linear association between daily protein intake and decline in kidney function. In other words, the higher your protein intake, the faster the decline in your kidney function.
And, guess what…
The second study, conducted by a team of researchers in South Korea, confirmed those results!
They found that people with the highest protein intake had 1.3 times higher risk of faster glomerular filtration rate (GFR) loss. If you haven’t heard the term before, GFR refers to how fast your kidneys can filter out the toxins in your body and is used both to measure kidney function and determine what stage of kidney disease you might be in.
Unfortunately, these findings aren’t all that surprising either…
Many past studies have shown that a high-protein diet may harm kidney function, which is why patients who are in early-stage chronic kidney disease are generally put on a low-protein diet by kidney specialists.
But, an entire group of patients who are at risk for poor kidney health have not only been ignored when it comes to these low-protein recommendation regimens but are actually more likely to be told to go high protein – a recommendation that could land them in dialysis.
Obesity and diabetes
According to the kidney experts who authored the new paper based on the Dutch and South Korean studies, people who suffer from either diabetes or obesity are often put on a high-protein diet by the doctors as a way to save calories, slim down, and lower their blood sugar.
However, this risks the health of their kidneys since both obesity and diabetes come with an increased chance of pre-existing low-grade chronic kidney disease.
In fact, they say that at least 30 percent of people with type-2 diabetes suffer from an underlying kidney disease. That’s 30 percent of people who could end up with rapidly deteriorating kidney health, taking the fast lane to kidney failure, if they go on a high-protein diet recommended by their doctor.
“To put it in a nutshell: To recommend a high-protein diet to an overweight diabetes patient may indeed result in loss of weight, but also in a severe loss of kidney function. We want one, but we also get the other,” says Professor Denis Fouque, past-chair of the European Renal Nutrition Working Group.
“By advising people – especially those with a high risk for chronic kidney disease, namely patients with diabetes, obese people, people with a solitary kidney and probably even elderly people – to eat a protein-rich diet, we are ringing the death bell for their kidney health and bringing them a big step closer to needing renal replacement therapy”, he concludes.
So, before you try a high-protein diet in a bid to get healthy and lose weight, you need to think again, especially if you have diabetes.
Talk to your doctor about your risks and have your kidney function checked out. Only when you know that your kidneys can handle the rigors of a high-protein diet should you consider making the change.
And, don’t forget…
Despite the wave of media attention, a high-protein diet is definitely not the only way to lose weight and feel better. Other good options include going keto, embracing the Mediterranean diet, or simply decreasing your calorie intake while upping your physical activity.
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