Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) is a common disease affecting millions of people worldwide.
Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara, led by Thomas Weimbs, have made an unexpected discovery: ketogenic diets may show promise as a safe and effective treatment for PKD.
This discovery stemmed from previous studies in which laboratory mice with PKD experienced a marked improvement when given less food.
Unravel the mechanism
Further research revealed that the metabolic state of ketosis was responsible for the positive effects.
Ketosis can be induced by ketogenic diets, intermittent fasting, or by administration of the ketone beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB). Notably, all three methods resulted in renal cyst shrinkage in the animals.
This breakthrough created excitement in the field, prompting many PKD sufferers to adopt ketogenic diets to manage their condition.
A Closer Look: Real Life Experiences
To explore the potential of ketogenic and time-limited diets in treating PKD, Weimbs and his team conducted a unique study that was published in the Clinical Kidney Journal.
Researchers looked at the experiences of a group of patients with autosomal dominant PKD (ADPKD), the more common form of the disease.
The aim was to gain insight into the feasibility and potential benefits of these dietary interventions.
The Results: Promising results
The study enrolled 131 ADPKD patients who were on either a ketogenic or time-restricted diet for an average of six months.
Telephone interviews were conducted to gather information about their experiences, changes in health status, kidney function, and safety concerns. The results were very encouraging.
An impressive 86% of participants reported an overall improvement in their health as a result of the dietary interventions.
In addition, 67% noticed an improvement in ADPKD-related health problems, while 64% reported better blood pressure.
The majority (90%) achieved significant weight loss and 92% considered the procedures feasible. However, 53% of participants took a break from dieting due to practical difficulties.
Safety Considerations: Side Effects
Around 66% of respondents reported diet-related side effects, including “keto flu”, hunger and fatigue. Fortunately, most of these effects wear off over time.
Although 14% of participants raised safety concerns with their doctors, typically due to elevated cholesterol levels, this is a known effect of ketogenic dieting that may normalize over time.
Other reported problems such as kidney stones and an increase in serum creatinine are associated with PKD disease progression.
Researchers emphasize the importance of PKD patients seeking medical supervision when incorporating ketogenic diets into their lifestyles.
Future steps: advance research
Weimbs and his team are working with a clinical research team in Germany to conduct a pilot study comparing ketogenic diets to intermittent fasting in people with ADPKD.
The aim is to collect more structured data and design a comprehensive clinical study.
In addition, the research team is collaborating with nutritionists in the United States to assess the impact of the Ren.Nu program, a distance education program for patients interested in kidney-safe, plant-based ketogenic diet and lifestyle changes.
Supported by the medicinal food KetoCitra, this program is undergoing clinical trials in collaboration with the University of Toronto.
Driven by a desire to halt the progression of PKD, Weimbs expresses excitement at the potential translation of his team’s discoveries into clinical applications.
This journey from basic research to potential clinical treatments represents a significant milestone in the field.
Pioneering new avenues for PKD treatment
Weimbs’ groundbreaking study suggests ketogenic diets may show promise as a safe and effective treatment for PKD.
Because a large number of patients are already using these diets and reporting positive results, more clinical trials are needed.
The researchers aim to determine the definitive impact of ketogenic diets on PKD and offer hope to patients seeking innovative approaches to treat this common kidney disease.
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For more information on kidney health, see recent studies on Foods that can prevent kidney stones from coming backAnd Nut consumption is associated with a lower risk of chronic kidney disease and death.
The study was published in Clinical Kidney Journal.
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