Eating a diet with too much red meat can cause kidney failure.
A new study from Singapore has found that those who eat a lot of red meat have a much higher risk of developing chronic kidney disease (CKD), an illness that is more common with elderly people. CKD is a long-term condition where the kidneys do not work effectively. CKD does not usually cause symptoms until it reaches an advanced stage, but symptoms of advanced kidney disease include tiredness, swollen ankles, feet or hands (due to water retention), shortness of breath, nausea and blood in the urine. It’s incurable and can lead to kidney failure and End-Stage Renal Disease.
A team of experts from The National University of Singapore looked at data from 63,257 Chinese adults taking part in the Singapore Chinese Health Study. Pork is the red meat eaten the most here, making up 97 per cent of consumption.
When the team followed up their research after more than 15 years, the link between red meat and increased risk of kidney failure was strong. The top quarter of people eating red meat had a 40 per cent higher risk over all.
Other protein sources were also looked at including poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products, but no association was found. Soya and legumes were actually shown to have slightly protective properties.
Swapping one serving of red meat for a different protein source reduced the risk of kidney failure by up to 62 per cent.
Results have been published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, with author Dr Woon-Puay Koh advising heavy red meat eaters to substitute the food source with either plant-based versions, or switching to different meat and fish alternatives.
“We embarked on our study to see what advice should be given to CKD patients or to the general population worried about their kidney health regarding types or sources of protein intake,” Dr Koh said.
“Our findings suggest that these individuals can still maintain protein intake but consider switching to plant-based sources. However, if they still choose to eat meat, fish/shellfish and poultry are better alternatives to red meat.”