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Environmental Nutrition: Eating to support kidney health

UHN staff, Environmental Nutrition on

Our kidneys play a vital role in protecting our overall health. What exactly are their main functions?

In the United States, 37 million adults are living with kidney disease. The main causes are high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. These diseases can damage the blood vessels of many organs, including the kidneys. The good news is that making changes to our lifestyle can prevent or slow kidney disease.

“Diet, smoking, and obesity are modifiable lifestyle factors that we can all control. By eating well, quitting smoking, and maintaining a normal weight, people can protect their kidneys and prevent future damage,” says Dr. Alex Chang, MD, MS of Johns Hopkins University.

Dietary changes to help maintain kidney health

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet

The DASH diet was originally designed to help lower blood pressure. It is rich in vegetables and fruits, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds and nuts and low in salt, added sugars and sweets, and red meats. A study published in the American Journal of Kidney Disease concluded that in addition to its benefit for blood pressure, the DASH Diet was also associated with a lower risk for developing kidney disease.


“In addition to offering other health benefits, consuming a DASH-style diet could help reduce the risk of developing kidney disease,” says study leader Casey M. Rebholz, PhD, MPH, MS, an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Bloomberg School. “The great thing about this finding is that we aren’t talking about a fad diet. This is something that many physicians already recommend to help prevent chronic disease.”

You can find more information about the DASH Diet including other calorie levels on the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website at

(Environmental Nutrition is the award-winning independent newsletter written by nutrition experts dedicated to providing readers up-to-date, accurate information about health and nutrition in clear, concise English. For more information, visit

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