Adhering to a Mediterranean-style diet may significantly reduce the risk of developing chronic kidney disease, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN).

Minesh Khatri, MD, from  Columbia University Medical Center and his colleagues examined the associations of varying degrees of the Mediterranean diet on long-term kidney function in an observational, community-based, prospective study.

“Many studies have found a favorable association between the Mediterranean diet and a variety of health outcomes, including those related to cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and cancer, among others,” said Khatri. “There is increasing evidence that poor diet is associated with kidney disease, but it is unknown whether the benefits of a Mediterranean diet could extend to kidney health as well.”

The Mediterranean diet includes higher consumption of fruits, vegetables, fish, legumes, and heart-healthy fats, while minimizing red meats, processed foods, and sweets.


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In an analysis of 900 participants who were followed for nearly 7 years, every one-point higher in a Mediterranean diet score, indicating better adherence to the diet, was associated with a 17% lower likelihood of developing chronic kidney disease. Dietary patterns that closely resembled the Mediterranean diet (with a score of ≥5) were linked with a 50% lower risk of developing chronic kidney disease and a 42% lower risk of experiencing rapid kidney function decline.

In an accompanying editorial, Julie Lin, MD, MPH, FASN, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital noted that a Mediterranean-style diet is only one component of an overall healthy lifestyle, which also needs to incorporate regular physical activity. “Although a seemingly simple goal, achieving this is challenging. We need to begin by embracing the reality that there is no magic pill or miracle food, only vigilance and discipline with diet and regular exercise, and the rare indulgence in cake for very special occasions,” she wrote.

The article, entitled “The Association between a Mediterranean-Style Diet and Kidney Function in the Northern Manhattan Study Cohort,” and the editorial, entitled “Where What is Not Stated or Required May Be the Most Illuminating,” appear online at http://cjasn.asnjournals.org