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Ask the Dietitian: What's the best protein for kidney disease?

Question:

What's the best protein for kidney disease?


Answer:

Protein is such an important part of the diet, especially for people with kidney disease. Too much protein in the middle to late stages of kidney disease can increase filtering by the kidneys which ultimately damages the kidneys and decreases the glomerular filtration rate number or GFR. After dialysis is initiated, more protein is needed to help support the body as protein is lost during treatment.


Protein is made up of amino acids which perform a variety of tasks in the body. We often think of protein as the building blocks to the structure and function of muscles. Protein is also used to replicate DNA. We can get protein in our diet from both plant and animal sources. Of interest to kidney disease is both the amount and type of protein.


Current recommendations suggest that less protein from any source is more protective to the kidneys for those with non-dialysis kidney disease in stages 3 and 4. There is a growing interest in and publications about the benefits of a plant-based diet for people with kidney disease. There are many benefits to plant-based diets and for people with kidney disease some of those benefits include: better blood pressure control, lower inflammation, improved gut health, decreased heart disease risk, and may help slow the progression of kidney disease.


While there is no one protein food that is best for kidney disease, it is best to have a variety of protein options in your diet. Work on replacing about 50% of your animal protein with plant proteins. You can do this by having more meatless meals in the week. You can find more information about a plant-based diet for kidney disease here.


Got a question for Dr. Melissa Prest?

Send it to her at mprest@nkfi.org and she may answer it on the blog!

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