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Can too much protein harm your kidneys?Kidneys. Kidneys are some of the most vital organs of the human anatomy. It filters out the waste in our body that travels through body fluids. It normally processes 200quarts of blood and filter the waste. Out of that amount it usually can separate about 2quarts of waste material that it disposes off through urination. This process also keeps the blood chemically balanced.
Protein’s effect on kidneys. For years it was believed that excess protein consumption can harm the kidneys until recent studies disproved this notion. These studies show that, generally, high-protein diets are tolerated by healthy adults. It’s a different story for a person who already has a kidney problem, though. Since the kidney filters out the liquid waste products in our body, a person with a damaged kidney will have problems getting rid of these waste from protein metabolism.
Protein is found in your bones, muscles, skin, organs, blood, hormones and enzymes. It is basically the building block of your body whereas amino acids are the building blocks of protein. The body, though, can't store excess protein. During digestion and metabolism, protein is broken down into amino acids. These amino acids bond with certain compounds to perform it’s specific function. The "extra" amino acids, however, are stripped of nitrogen. These non-nitrogen parts are used for energy or converted into fat. The remaining compound (nitrogen) becomes nitrogen waste and is eventually excreted by the kidneys and liver.
Studies. In one study, 77 young men underwent heavy training and a high protein diet for several weeks. Beforehand, their blood urea nitrogen, uric acid and creatinine levels were tested to know the condition of their kidneys. These same parameters were monitored throughout the study and it showed that their diet did not put stress on their kidneys. Another study compared a group of body builders and a group of highly trained athletes. Both groups consume high amounts of protein, the body builders more than the athletes. On average, bodybuilders consume about 169g of protein a day while the athletes about 99g a day. Some of the body builders consume up to 2.8g / kilogram. Although some parameters (like uric acid) is high on bodybuilders, the tests did not show any kind of strain to their kidneys and kidney function. For those who already have kidney problems, high-protein diets may increase the risk of kidney stones. This does not mean that people with reduced renal function can’t take protein anymore. In a study supported by grants from Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and Manitoba Institute of Child Health, it was concluded that protein from soy and other non-animal produce causes lesser damage to the kidneys (that already has a problem) than those that come from meat, and dairy products.
Sadly, not a lot of people know when they have reduced kidney function. This is because, for most people, early stages of reduced renal function do not show. If a person has kidney or liver disease or any chronic health condition, it is advised to talk to a physician first before going on a new diet.