Kidneys and Protein, the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
People seem to have a love affair with protein. They believe that it’s critical to have a high protein intake to have good health. The go-to foods that people consider healthy are often foods high in protein. Sadly, the scientific evidence for high protein foods is the other way around. Mostly they are dangerous to our health, both in their short-term and long-term effects.
When it comes to bone health and kidney stones, eating lots of protein is the primary reason that bone loss and stone formation in our kidneys are rampant in our nation. When we consume diets high in protein, our kidneys have to buffer out renal acids caused by the unnecessary protein. That’s right, you read it correctly; anyone can easily eat too much protein and put a strain on their system. To buffer the renal acids, your kidneys steal calcium from your bones and food. This creates loss of bone strength and increased risk of kidney stones, a big problem in Nevada in the summer. Most people think, “I will just take a calcium supplement.” However, this can worsen the risk for kidney stones. All that excess calcium makes it easier to grow a kidney stone, and still leaves you at risk for osteoporosis.
According to the British Medical Journal, “researchers, led by Dr. Shalini Reddy from the University of Chicago, found that six weeks on a low carbohydrate, high protein diet increased the acid load to the kidneys, raising the risk of kidney stones. Animal protein has been shown to boost urinary excretion of oxalate, a compound that combines with calcium and other compounds to form kidney stones.” High protein diets clearly increase the risk of progression to kidney disease. At the moment, the Vegas Valley has over thirty dialysis centers. So we have a huge number of people going on dialysis regularly.
Many different studies published over the last twenty years have established clearly that diets low in protein prevent people with early kidney disease from progressing to renal dialysis and death. In studies on diabetic patients, these risks were dropped nearly in half by adopting a low protein diet.
All foods with the exception of simple sugars and oils have protein in them. This means even foods that you think of as primarily carbohydrate foods like potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, rice and squash have protein in them that your body can utilize. This kind of protein is both good and necessary.