GFR Decline Tied to Protein Intake in African-Americans with Diabetes

Recent studies suggest that increased intake of protein as a percentage of the total energy intake is linked with an increased decline in the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) among African-Americans with diabetes. 

The population examined by this particular study was made up of 3,165 participants. It was observed that over an 8-year period, there was an increased decline in eGFR in people with diabetes when compared to those who didn’t have it based on their protein intake.

They also observed a U-shaped response to dose among those with diabetes alongside the higher eGFR declines noticed in those in the 2 highest and 2 lowest quintiles as compared to those who were in the middle quintile. There was no established link observed by the researchers on the connection between the amount of protein taken and the eGFR decline amongst the participants that didn’t have diabetes.

In the first and second quintiles respectively, the mean eGFR among patients with diabetes declined by 15.9 and 16.7 mL/min/1.73m2. The mean eGFR declined to 12 mL/min/1.73 m2 in the middle quintile.

These results imply that the development of kidney disease may be enhanced by high protein consumption especially in African Americans. The protein intake was estimated from a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) administered by the investigators at first study visit of the participants.

So, What Are Some Ways To Get Those GFR Numbers Where They Should Be?

  • Switch out high protein foods (red meats, poultry, fish) with lower protein options like tofu. This simple switch can go a long way with tofu having a much lower 13 grams of protein vs the typical amount in say, a few ounces of ground beef, a whopping 25 grams! 
  • Experiment with vegetable substitutions of your favorite meals. Have a favorite way of eating meat? Use a veggie meat (many options are available in grocery stores) or even a kidney-friendly vegetable and prepare it in a similar fashion, using similar spices/cooking techniques, etc.
  • Get into the habit of checking protein content of every food you plan to consume, even ones you think are unlikely to contain much protein. Things like nut-laden granola bars or baked goods prepared with eggs may be surprisingly high.

This study analyzed data from participants in the JHS however, some limitations were witnessed in this study an they include; the use of FFQ which means that the protein intake was reported by the participants and more often than not, FFQ respondents tend to misrepresent facts.

If managing your kidney levels are important to you, here are some valuable resources in our backlog you definitely won’t want to miss!

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