More kidney protective strategies are needed to reduce the burden of complete kidney failure from chronic kidney disease (CKD). Clinicians sometimes use protein restriction as kidney protection despite its demonstrated lack of effectiveness in the only large-scale study. Small-scale studies support that dietary acid reduction is kidney-protective, including when done with base-inducing foods like fruits and vegetables. We review these studies in light of current kidney-protective recommendations.
Animal models of CKD show that acid-inducing dietary protein exacerbates and base-inducing protein ameliorates nephropathy progression, and that increased intake of acid-inducing but not base-inducing dietary protein exacerbates progression. Clinical studies show that dietary acid reduction with Na-based alkali reduces kidney injury and slows nephropathy progression in patients with CKD and reduced glomerular filtration rate (GFR); base-inducing fruits and vegetables reduce kidney injury in patients with reduced GFR; and base-inducing fruits and vegetables improve metabolic acidosis in CKD.
Protein type rather than amount might more importantly affect nephropathy progression. Base-inducing foods might be another way to reduce dietary acid, a strategy shown in small studies to slow nephropathy progression. Further studies will determine if CKD patients should be given base-inducing food as part of their management.