A vegetarian diet can help kidney disease patients by preventing the accumulation of toxic levels of phosphorous in their bodies.
Kidney disease patients must limit their phosphorous intake, as high levels of the mineral can lead to heart disease and death.
While medical guidelines recommend low phosphorus diets for patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), phosphorus content is not listed on food labels.
Sharon Moe (Indiana University School of Medicine and Roudebush Veterans' Affairs Medical Center) and her colleagues studied the effects of vegetarian and meat-based diets on phosphorous levels in nine patients with CKD.
Patients followed a vegetarian or meat-based diet for one week, followed by the opposite diet two-to four- weeks later. Blood and urine tests were performed at the end of each week on both diets.
Despite equivalent protein and phosphorus concentrations in the two diets, patients had lower blood phosphorus levels and decreased phosphorus excretion in the urine when they were on the vegetarian diet compared with the meat-based diet.
The authors concluded that their study demonstrates that the source of protein in the diet has a significant effect on phosphorus levels in patients with CKD.
The study appeared in a recent issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society Nephrology (CJASN).