Lifestyle choices can reduce the risk of kidney disease

Active lifestyle choices such as eating vegetables, exercising and quitting smoking can reduce the risk of chronic kidney disease, a new Griffith University study has found.

Published in The Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, researchers from Griffith University and Karolinska Instituet, Sweden, undertook a systematic review of more than 100 published research papers to determine which lifestyle changes can lower the risk of kidney disease.

About 10 percent of the world population suffers from some kind of chronic kidney disease. In 2017, more than 1.2 million people were estimated to have died as a direct result of their kidney disease and another 1.4 million of the cardiovascular complications caused by reduced kidney function.

The study included more than 2.5 million healthy people from 16 countries. Of particular interest to the researchers were how diet, exercise, tobacco smoking and alcohol may play a role in the risk of developing kidney problems.

Dr Jaimon Kelly

More and more people get diagnosed with kidney disease each year, which can lead to early death or dialysis, necessitating the focus on preventing this condition all together,’’ said Dr Jaimon Kelly from Griffith’s Menzies Health Institute Queensland.

“However, there is currently no clear information available to the medical community and the general population for how to do this. We collected all the available evidence for food, nutrients, beverages, physical activity, alcohol consumption and tobacco smoking and whether these were linked to the risk of developing kidney problems

“We discovered that lifestyle choices may play a big role in the risk of getting kidney disease and we think these can help clinical decision-making by doctors and healthy patients on lifestyle choices and preventing kidney damage.

The advice includes a more vegetable-rich diet, a higher potassium intake, more exercise, less alcohol consumption, less salt consumption and quitting smoking.

“In the absence of randomised intervention studies in the field, this study is the best evidence we have to date on what lifestyle choices can help for primary prevention of kidney disease,” says Juan Jesus Carrero, professor of epidemiology at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet.

“The results can be used in the development of public health recommendations and in discussions with patients on how to lower their risk.”

The researchers stress that the advice applies to healthy people at risk of developing kidney problems, and that people who are already suffering from kidney disease are to follow other lifestyle recommendations to avoid unnecessary strain on their kidneys.

The study was financed by several parties, including the Swedish Research Council and the European Renal Association-European Dialysis and Transplantation Association (ERA-EDTA).