In a world of countless diet fads and programs, perhaps none
is as well-known as the "Atkins Diet," which severely limits
carbohydrate consumption but allows for high levels of dietary
protein and fats. The possible long-term side-effects of a
high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet are still uncertain, although
recent American Heart Association guidelines suggest that
a long-term, high-protein diet may adversely affect kidney
To evaluate a possible association between dietary protein
intake and functional decline of the kidneys over an 11-year
period, researchers examined approximately 1,600 women ages
42-68. Protein intake was determined twice over the study
period using a food-frequency questionnaire; renal function
was evaluated through measurements of kidney filtration ability.
About 500 women displayed a slight but harmless weakened kidney
function at the start of the study.
women with mild kidney deficiency, high protein consumption
was associated with a significant decline in kidney function
over time; those who consumed the most protein showed the
greatest functional decline. Intake of nondairy animal protein,
in particular, was associated with accelerated renal decline
in these women. High protein intake was not related to kidney
function in women with normal initial kidney function.
Long-term, high-protein diets may have substantial negative
side-effects on kidney function. Roughly one-fourth of all
Americans are considered to display mild renal insufficiency;
most of these individuals are unaware of this. Exercise caution
when considering any fad diet or weight-loss remedy. If you
choose a high-protein, low-carb diet to lose weight, consider
only adhering to it for a short time. A well-balanced diet
combined with exercise is still the safest, most effective
way to maintain long-term weight control.
Knight EL, Stampfer MJ, et al. The impact of protein intake
on renal function decline in women with normal renal function
or mild renal insufficiency. Annals of Internal Medicine
2003:138(6), pp. 460-467.
To learn more about how the nutritional choices you make
can affect your health, go to www.chiroweb.com/find/archives/nutrition.