This diet, known as DASH for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, was designed primarily to reduce blood pressure.
“In addition to offering other health benefits, consuming a DASH-style diet could help reduce the risk of developing kidney disease,” said study leader Casey Rebholz, Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland.
“The great thing about this finding is that we aren’t talking about a fad diet. This is something that many physicians already recommend to help prevent chronic disease,” Rebholz said.
For their study, the researchers examined records from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study, which in 1987 began following a group of 15,792 middle-aged adults from communities in Maryland, North Carolina, Minnesota and Mississippi for more than 20 years.
The researchers found that participants with the lowest DASH diet scores (those who ate few foods such as fruits, vegetables and nuts, and consumed more red meat and sodium) were 16 percent more likely to develop kidney disease than those with the highest DASH scores (those who ate more of the healthier foods and less of the unhealthy items).
Those who had the highest intake of red and processed meats were at a 22 per cent higher risk of developing chronic kidney disease than those with the lowest intake of those foods. Those with the highest intake of nuts and legumes were at nine per cent lower risk of developing kidney disease than those with the lowest intake.
The reason that DASH-style diets appear to stave off kidney disease may be that it is known to reduce blood pressure, Rebholz said.
Hypertension has been linked to kidney disease. Another possibility could be related to the “dietary acid load” in the foods people eat, or the overall acidity of the foods in a diet, she said in the study published online in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases.
High acid foods include meats and cheeses; low acid foods include fruits and vegetables. Several independent researchers have shown that high dietary acid may be linked to kidney disease.