The Link Between NALFD and Low Kidney Function – and How a Low-Fat Diet Can Help

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has been linked to various other conditions, including heart disease and blausen_0593_kidneyanatomy_02Type II diabetes. Now scientists are saying NAFLD patients may be running a higher risk than the average population of inadequate kidney function.

But a brand-new study, published Nov. 22, 2016, has determined that a low-fat diet may improve low kidney function in NAFLD patients who also have this condition.

The study, entitled “Diet and Exercise Can Improve Kidney Function in Patients With Fatty Liver Disease,” focused on diabetics with kidney disease and fatty liver.

Study Findings: Positive News

Low-fat foods helped study participants get healthy.

Low-fat foods helped study participants get healthy.

Senior author Dr. Naga Chalasani said there was some good news in the study: namely, that a low-fat diet might help sufferers.

The study unfortunately confirmed that kidney disease and other conditions may accompany NAFLD, via mechanisms not yet clearly understood.

However, researchers said a low-fat diet could improve both NAFLD and kidney issues in concurrent sufferers.

Further Research Needed

The findings are still in preliminary stages, and more research is required in order to better grasp causation v. correlation as well as other factors, study authors said.

“The exact mechanism to explain these findings have not yet been entirely elucidated,” Dr. Chalasani commented, “[but it] may be a reflection of the improvement in oxidative stress, insulin sensitivity, inflammation, and vascular endothelial function and permeability that may contribute to positive changes in kidney function.”

What You Should Do

Diet and exercise are still the best places to start.

Diet and exercise are still the best places to start.

If you have low kidney function and/or Type II diabetes in conjunction with NAFLD, DO NOT self-diagnose or self-medicate, professionals warn. Instead, ask your doctor for follow-up testing and any medications and/or dietary restrictions or changes.

Meanwhile, if you are overweight and your doctor has given you the go-ahead to attempt to decrease your total body fat on your own, start with the following basics:

  • Calorie control remains the gold standard for weight loss. It’s not the ONLY part of the equation, but it’s an important piece of the puzzle. Get an idea of how much you need to eat each day to maintain your current weight, and subtract 500 calories per day to aim for 1-lb. weight loss per week, or 250 calories per day for 1/2-lb. weight loss per week. Again, this won’t be an exact science as there are many variables, but you’ll have a ballpark figure to work from and tweak to your personal needs.
  • Lose weight SLOWLY unless otherwise advised (and overseen) by your physician. Slow, steady weight loss is more maintainable, as you are eating more than you would with a more aggressive plan and therefore are learning to eat reasonable portions going forward into the future.
  • Add exercise to your routine if possible. Even if bed-bound, there may be some upper body exercises you can do. Ask your doctor.
  • Fresh foods can be inexpensive; don’t fall into the trap of assuming packaged foods are cheaper. Shop the perimeter of the store, shop in-season foods (they’re less expensive that way) and take advantage of specials and sales.
  • Have a grill? Use it! Grilling saves calories on added oils and imparts delicious flavor to meats and veggies.
  • Get creative with recipes. Don’t fall back on plain broiled chicken with broccoli night after night. Search websites for ideas (we love Pinterest).







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