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Mediterranean Diet May Help Preserve the Kidney Health of Transplant Recipients

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03 January 2020

​​​In a study of kidney transplant recipients, those with higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet were less likely to experience kidney function loss. A new study by researchers of the University Medical Center Groningen, indicates that following the Mediterranean diet may help kidney transplant recipients maintain normal kidney function. The findings appeared this week online in Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology  (CJASN).

Despite improvements in the survival of transplanted kidneys in the early years after transplantation, loss of kidney function within 10 years still occurs in more than one-third of recipients. António Gomes-Neto, MD (University Medical Center Groningen, in the Netherlands) and his colleagues investigated whether adhering to the Mediterranean diet—which focuses on high intake of fish, fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and olive oil together with lower intake of dairy and meat products—might help protect transplant recipients’ kidney health.

For the study, 632 adult kidney transplant recipients with a functioning donor kidney for at least one year completed a food-related questionnaire, and adherence to the Mediterranean diet was assessed using a 9-point score.

During an average follow-up of 5.2 years, 119 recipients experienced kidney function decline (76 of whom developed kidney failure). The Mediterranean Diet Score was inversely associated with kidney function decline and kidney failure. Each 2-point increase in the score was associated with a 29% lower risk of kidney function decline and a 32% lower risk of kidney failure.

​“Increasing scientific evidence has demonstrated health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet on cardiovascular and kidney health. In this study, we show that kidney transplant recipients with higher adherence to the Mediterranean Diet are less likely to experience function loss of their kidney transplant,” said Dr. Gomes-Neto.