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Does a High Protein Diet Plan cause kidney damage? Where’s the Beef Part # 3

So in the first sections of the “Where’s the Beef?” series I discussed various benefits of ingesting adequate protein in your diet.  We outlined that eating protein can help with hunger, weight loss, blood sugar control, etc. 

So the common question I get…”Doesn’t eating a High Protein Diet Plan cause kidney damage?”

The short answer is NO.   Let’s explore a bit.

The kidney’s in general perform a filtration service for our body.  Blood flows through the kidney and toxins and metabolism waste products are processed out into the urogenital system for excretion through the bladder.   Waste laden blood in, concentrated waste laden urine out….beautiful system.  

During this normal filtration, the kidneys are required to filter out waste but “Keep” beneficial nutrients, blood cells, and serum proteins.  Of course, a primary job also consists of conserving fluid/water as well.  An early sign of kidney damage is microalbuminuria or leakage of a protein called albumin into the urine.  This is like a fishing net with a hole.  The fish / albumin slips through the faulty net.

Now the myth that a “High Protein Diet Plan” will hurt the kidney stems from the above basic information.  The idea has always been that if you have a higher than normal circulation of protein in your blood, then your kidneys will need to work extra hard to keep up. 

This is only partially true.  The only situation where limiting excessive protein makes sense however is in patients with SEVERE kidney damage or dialysis.  (Less of an issue in dialysis because the kidneys are already very damaged and leak tremendous amounts of protein into the urine….a sure sign that the filtration portion of the kidney is badly damaged. )

Following the fishing analogy, if your net ain’t ripped, catching more fish isn’t a problem.

For the rest of us without evidence of kidney damage, please know that there is NO EVIDENCE that eating a “High Protein Diet” will in any way cause damage to the kidneys

As best I can tell, this urban myth stems from an inappropriate extrapolation from the physiology and pathology issues I discussed above.

I hope this information helps a bit.  Check out a blog from David Francis if your looking for sources of quality proteins.

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