For patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), a diet that stresses healthy food vs. individual ingredients may help reduce the risk of early death, a study published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology has found. 

Patients are typically instructed to follow dietary recommendations that restrict phosphorous, potassium, protein, and sodium. But these restrictions, the study reports, are not as effective in reducing the patients’ risk of premature death. 

Giovanni Strippoli, MD, PhD, and Jaimon Kelly, led a team of researchers to evaluate overall dietary patterns and mortality or end-stage renal disease (ESRD) among adults with CKD. The team analyzed existing literature for longitudinal cohort studies assessing the association of dietary patterns with mortality, cardiovascular events, or ESRD. They identified 7 studies including 15,284 patients for the systematic review. 

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They found that healthy dietary patterns were generally higher in fruits, vegetables, fish, legumes, cereals, whole grains, and fiber, and lower in red meat, salt, and refined sugars. Six of the 7 studies showed that healthy dietary patterns were associated with a 20–30% reduced mortality rate with 46 fewer deaths per 1,000 people over 5 years (adjusted relative risk [RR] 0.73, 95% CI: 0.63–0.83). 

Study authors reported no significant association between healthy dietary patterns and risk of kidney failure (adjusted RR 1.04, 95% CI: 0.68–1.40). 

The findings supported that healthy dietary patterns were associated with lower mortality in patients with CKD. Recommendations to support adherence to a greater intake of fruit, vegetable, fish, legume, whole grain, and fiber, as well as a lower intake of red meat, sodium, and refined sugar, “could be effective tools to lower mortality in people with kidney disease.”

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