In a study reported in the March 18, 2003, issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers studied dietary protein and kidney function in women with either normal kidney function or mild kidney disease. Female nurses, 42–68 years old, reported on their eating habits over a period of 11 years, after which their GFR was measured. In women with normal kidney function at the start of the study, there was no association between protein intake and GFR. Yet, in women with mild kidney disease at the start of the study, GFR declined as they ate more protein — especially nondairy animal protein. Experts now recommend a protein intake of 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day in people who have overt nephropathy — and perhaps lower if this has a beneficial effect on the GFR. Protein-restricted diets should be designed by a registered dietitian, who can take into consideration all aspects of nutrition and dietary management of diabetes.
Risk reduction steps
Diabetic nephropathy is the leading cause of kidney failure in the United States. Yet with proper screening and diagnosis, some lifestyle changes, and good control of blood glucose and blood pressure with appropriate medicines, you can greatly reduce your chances of developing advanced kidney disease. The other good news: These same measures can also protect your heart, blood vessels, eyes, and nerves.