In a recent study presented in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, statistics once again indicate the numerous health benefits of choosing a vegetarian diet. Specifically studied was the level of toxic phosphorus in the blood and urine of kidney disease patients.
Patients suffering from kidney disease must limit their intake of phosphorus—found in dietary proteins and often used as a common food additive—since their bodies cannot sufficiently rid itself of the mineral. In these patients, high levels of phosphorous can lead to increased risk of heart disease and ultimately, death.
The study investigated the effects of vegetarian and meat-based diets on phosphorus levels in the blood of nine patients suffering from chronic kidney disease (CKD), with each patient eating a vegetarian or meat-based diet for two weeks, then waiting two to four weeks before eating the opposite diet for one week.
Blood and urine tests were conducted at the end of each week for both diets with results indicating that although the two diets had equal protein and phosphorus concentrations, the patients who ate the vegetarian diet had lower blood and urine phosphorus levels.
Dr. Sharon Moe of Indiana University School of Medicine and Roudebush Veterans’ Affairs Medical Center, and colleagues concluded: “The findings show that the source of protein in a diet has a major effect on phosphorus levels of chronic kidney disease patients.” A fact additionally noted by the examiners of the study, which indicates that a grain-based diet has a lower phosphate-to-protein ratio and much of the phosphate is in the form of phytate, which is not absorbed in humans.
"These results, if confirmed in longer studies, provide rationale for recommending a predominance of grain-based vegetarian sources of protein to patients with CKD. This diet would allow increased protein intake without adversely affecting phosphorus levels," they wrote in a news release.