Eating a Mediterranean diet could help preserve kidney function in transplant recipients

The new study suggests that eating habits based on the Mediterranean diet, as well as cutting down on dairy products and meat, could reduce the risk of kidney failure in transplant patients

New research has shown that people who have had a kidney transplant are less likely to suffer from impaired kidney function if they follow a Mediterranean diet. 

Despite improving survival rates for transplanted kidneys in the first few years after transplantation, loss of kidney function within 10 years still occurs in more than one third of recipients. A new study to be published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology suggests that eating habits based on the Mediterranean diet (fish, fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and olive oil), as well as lower consumption of dairy products and meat, could reduce the risk of graft failure. 

Conducted by Dutch researchers from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, the research was based on data from questionnaires submitted to 632 adult kidney transplant patients whose donor kidney had been functioning for at least one year. The questions focused on diet, and participants' responses were evaluated and given a score of up to 9. 

Thereafter participants were followed over a median period of 5.2 years. During those years, 119 patients experienced impaired renal function, while 76 of them developed renal failure. The closer the participant's diet was to that of the Mediterranean diet, the lower the risk of declining renal function and renal failure. Each increase of 2 points in the diet evaluation score was associated with a 29% decrease in the risk of declining renal function and a 32% decrease in the risk of renal 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," concluded Dr Gomes-Neto, who supervised the research.