NOV 07, 2023 4:01 PM PST

A Diet Could be as Powerful as a Drug Treatment for Kidney Disease

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

Can diets be modified to treat disease? In some cases, the answer may be yes. New research has determined that people who consume a ketogenic diet can improve kidney function in a type of kidney disease. This disorder, called hereditary polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD), causes an estimated ten percent of all cases of kidney failure.

Image credit: Pixabay

In this work, the investigators assessed the impact of one of three dietary regimens on polycystic kidney disease patients. There were 66 volunteers who were put into one of three groups; one group consumed a ketogenic diet for three months; another performed three days of fasting once per month, in which they only consumed water during those three days; the final group served as a control and they ate standard diets.

The researchers measured the levels of ketone bodies in all of the study participants, which can confirm that people are performing a ketogenic diet. In the ketogenic diet, carbohydrate intake is drastically reduced, and fat intake is increased.

"You have to skip bread and sweets, and, for example, you use more olive oil; fatty fish such as salmon are also a great food in this regard," said Professor Dr. Roman-Ulrich Müller of the University Hospital Cologne.

This work showed that ketogenic diets can have positive results for ADPKD patients. Within three months, kidney function began to improve for patients on the ketogenic diet, and there were not any unexpected side effects. The findings have been published in Cell Reports Medicine.

People were also able to follow the diet; 95 percent of patients in the ketogenic group, and 85 parent in the water fasting group thought it was feasible.

This video about the study has English subtitles.

While these results are promising, and may show that dietary interventions could be a great way to improve kidney function for ADPKD patients, the study was also very small. Müller noted that more research would be needed before a ketogenic diet can be widely recommended to individuals with ADPKD. It will also important to determine whether these positive changes are long-lasting in patients, and how they might impact health over the long term.

However, as a study that was conducted with the same standards of a drug trial, it has shown that diets can have as big of an effect as a drug. "This could be the starting point for many dietary treatment strategies," Müller added.

Sources: University of Cologne, Cell Reports Medicine

About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
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