Diets with a high acid content may increase chronic kidney disease patients' risk of developing kidney failure. The finding, which comes from a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN), suggests that patients may want to limit their intake of meats and increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables to help protect their kidneys.

Nutrition has important effects on a variety of aspects of health, including those related to kidney function. For example, for patients with chronic kidney disease, studies have shown that diet can significantly influence the risk of progression to kidney failure.

Tanushree Banerjee, PhD, from UC San Francisco, and her colleagues examined whether acid-inducing diets might play a role. Low acid load diets are rich in fruits and vegetables, while high acid diets contain more meats. The researchers analyzed information on 1,486 adults with CKD who were participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III (NHANES III), a large national sample of community dwelling adults. Patients were followed for a median of 14.2 years.

The team found that higher levels of dietary acid load were strongly linked with progression to kidney failure among patients. Patients who consumed high acid diets were 3-times more likely to develop kidney failure than patients who consumed low acid diets.

“Patients with chronic kidney disease may want to pay more attention to diet consumption of acid rich foods to reduce progression to kidney failure, in addition to employing recommended guidelines such as taking kidney-sparing medication and avoiding kidney toxins,” said Banerjee. “The high costs and suboptimal quality of life that dialysis treatments bring may be avoided by adopting a more healthy diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables.”

Study co-authors include Deidra Crews, MD, Donald Wesson, MD, Anca Tilea, MS, Rajiv Saran, MD, Nilka Ríos Burrows, MPH, Desmond Williams, MD, and Neil Powe, MD.

The article, entitled “High Dietary Acid Load Predicts ESRD among Adults with CKD,” appears online at