Regular nut consumption has a positive effect on chronic kidney disease and mortality in the United States, a recent study published in our American Journal of Nephrology shows. This is a promising discovery.
Several studies have already shown that nut consumption may have a favorable effect on cardiovascular health. The recently published study Nut Consumption and Effects on Chronic Kidney Disease and Mortality in the United States demonstrates the benefits of nuts for chronic kidney disease (CKD) prevention.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, diabetes and high blood pressure — two very common illnesses in the United States and increasingly in Europe and Asia – are the leading causes of chronic kidney disease. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 3 Americans suffer from pre-diabetes, and nearly half of all American adults suffer from hypertension. More than 37 million Americans suffer from CKD, 15 percent of the population (estimation from 2019).
Diabetes and its Effects
In a single generation, the number of people with Type 2 Diabetes has quadrupled (source WHO). Unlike many other known illnesses, it could affect the whole body and every organ system as small and large blood vessels get damaged over time. This results in visual problems, chronic kidney disease, polyneuropathy, and atherosclerotic plaque that can impact heart, brain, and legs (peripheral vascular disease) among other organs.
High blood pressure is the second leading cause of CKD. It also has an effect on blood vessels as it constricts, narrows, and eventually damages them throughout the whole body (including in the kidneys).
The Metabolic Syndrome
According to a study also published in the American Journal of Nephrology, metabolic syndrome is associated with chronic kidney disease (Metabolic Syndrome, and Not Obesity, Is Associated with Chronic Kidney Disease). Metabolic syndrome, formerly called Syndrome X, is a group of conditions including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high triglycerides, abnormal cholesterol, and excess body fat around the waist. When patients experience 3 or more of these conditions, they suffer from metabolic syndrome, like almost 30 percent of adult North Americans. The main cause is hyperinsulinemia (read more about it). Hyperinsulinemia is the condition in which excess amount of insulin circulates in the blood.
Dietary Fat and Insulin Stimulation
Of the 3 macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fat), dietary fat stimulates insulin the least. Olive oil, butter, or other pure fats trigger almost no insulin release. Replacing some refined carbohydrates (such as in carbonated soft drinks, sugary snacks or convenience foods) with natural fats seems an easy approach to reducing insulin. Natural fats (found for instance in nuts, fatty cold-water fish, butter, olive oil, and avocado) raise blood glucose level very little, hence the body releases much less insulin.
Significant Results in the New Study
Above, we covered the main causes of chronic kidney disease and the link between insulin stimulation and diet, and we noted that natural fats reduce insulin release and are therefore beneficial for preventing or reducing diabetes, hypertension, or metabolic syndrome (which are all potential causes of chronic kidney disease). Nuts not only are sources of unsaturated fat, but they also seem to maintain a gut microbiota balance and help with bowel health. Different nut components may help improve hypertension. Nuts could also reduce inflammation Yao, Ge, et al. speculate that the anti-inflammatory effects that nuts show in other diseases may also help reducing glomerular injury and even slow the progression of chronic kidney disease). Nuts may improve lipid metabolism disorders because they are rich in unsaturated fatty acids. The study recommends consumption of 1-6 times per week. A higher frequency could be hazardous for patients with chronic kidney diseases but beneficial for people not suffering from chronic kidney disease.
3 Take-Away Tips for You
- Eating nuts 1-6 times per week
- Avoid refined carbohydrate and choose food containing unsaturated fats
- Avoid processed foods
If you would like to read the article, you can find it here.
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