Is a high-protein diet bad for your kidneys?

Can a high-protein diet be detrimental to your health? We asked a dietician to weigh in.

06 February 2015
by Jennifer Campbell

According to the National Kidney Foundation of South Africa, chronic kidney disease has been estimated to affect around 15 percent of South Africans, and is a growing health problem, with about 20 000 new patients requiring treatment each year. Registered dietician and nutritional consultant Lila Bruk argues that poor diet and overall lifestyle choices like smoking are most likely to blame.

There is some evidence to suggest that excess protein puts strain on the kidneys, says Bruk. “This is because the kidneys have to work harder to excrete this protein,” she says. Too much protein can lead to a build-up of toxic ketones, which can harm the kidneys. Bruk explains, however, that there is still more research required to determine the extent to which excess protein is an issue for individuals with healthy kidneys, or if the negative effects of a high-protein diet are specific to those with pre-existing kidney disease.

Tackle this kidney-friendly diet

Bruk offers the following tips for a kidney-friendly diet (whether you suffer from kidney disease or not):

  • Drink approximately two litres of water every day.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Keep your weight and blood pressure in check.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Limit your salt intake.
  • Choose fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid fizzy drinks.
  • Avoid excessive protein intake – the recommended daily allowance of protein is 0.8 to 1 gram per kilogram of body weight. So, if you weigh 60kg, for example, do not exceed 60 grams of protein a day. It’s important to note that this recommendation is for an average person – in certain circumstances, like for an athlete who is very active, this amount may need to be increased to an absolute maximum of 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram.
  • Avoid excessive vitamin C intake.

How Clicks Clinics can help you

Clicks Clinics offer weight-loss management. Make an appointment with a Clicks Clinic sister and find out how you can take control of your weight.

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