A collaborative study out of Duke and the University of Singapore found a relationship between red meat intake and kidney disease.

Tone down the red meat

Red Meat

Worldwide there are approximately 500 million men and women with chronic kidney disease. For many of these folks, the disease will progress to end-stage renal disease, and it will require either dialysis or a kidney transplant. Our two kidneys should last a lifetime to filter waste products from the body, producing the urine that we excrete throughout the day. A collaborative study out of Duke and the University of Singapore found a relationship between red meat intake and kidney disease.

The study included 63,000 adults between the ages of 45 to 74. They were followed for 15.5 years. During that time, 951 developed End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD).

Those with the most frequent intake of red meat had a 40 percent higher risk of developing ESRD. Those with the lowest intake of red meat had the lowest ESRD risk. There seemed to be no risk form eating other sources of animal protein such as dairy (milk, cheese and yogurt), eggs, poultry and fish.

Red meats include beef, pork, lamb, vela and venison. The researchers do not know exactly why red meat intake may be harmful to the kidneys. Interestingly, soy and legumes appeared to be slightly protective to the kidneys.

A previous U.S. Nurses’ Health Study found that a higher red meat and processed meat (deli meats, hotdogs, bacon and sausage) intake was associated with a decline in glomerular filtration rate, a measure of kidney function.

Do you need to go completely without red meat? The researchers say no – that even just omitting one serving of red meat a week can be protective. It is also easy to begin to have red meat replacements in your recipes – ground turkey or chicken in your chili, meatloaf, and spaghetti sauce or grilled cheese sandwich rather than ham and cheese sandwich.

Recipes to try:

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About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.