Low carbohydrate diet may reverse kidney failure in people with diabetes

Researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine have for the first time determined that the ketogenic diet, a specialized high-fat, low carbohydrate diet, may reverse impaired kidney function in people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. They also identified a previously unreported panel of genes associated with diabetes-related kidney failure, whose expression was reversed by the diet. The findings were published in the current issue of PLoS ONE.

Charles Mobbs, PhD, Professor of Neuroscience and Geriatrics and Palliative Care Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and his research team evaluated mice that were genetically predisposed to have Type 1 or 2 diabetes. The mice were allowed to develop diabetic nephropathy, or kidney failure. Half of the mice were put on the ketogenic diet, while the control group maintained a standard high carbohydrate diet. The researcher founds that after eight weeks, kidney failure was reversed in the mice on the ketogenic diet.

"Our study is the first to show that a dietary intervention alone is enough to reverse this serious complication of diabetes," said Dr. Mobbs. "This finding has significant implications for the tens of thousands of Americans diagnosed with diabetic kidney failure, and possibly other complications, each year."

The ketogenic diet is a low-carbohydrate, moderate protein, and high-fat diet typically used to control seizures in children with epilepsy. Many cells can get their energy from ketones, which are molecules produced when the blood glucose levels are low and blood fat levels are high. When cells use ketones instead of glucose for fuel, glucose is not metabolized. Since high glucose metabolism causes kidney failure in diabetes, researchers hypothesized that the ketogenic diet would block those toxic effects of glucose. Considering the extreme requirements of the diet, it is not a long-term solution in adults. However, Dr. Mobbs' research indicates that exposure to the diet for as little as a month may be sufficient to "reset" the gene expression and pathological process leading to kidney failure.

The researchers also identified a large array of genes expressed during diabetic nephropathy not previously known to play a role in the development of this complication. These genes are associated with kidney failure as a result of the stress on cellular function. The team found that the expression of these genes was also reversed in the mice on the ketogenic diet.

Dr. Mobbs and his team plan to continue to research the impact of the ketogenic diet and the mechanism by which it reverses kidney failure in people with diabetes, and in age-related kidney failure. He believes the ketogenic diet could help treat other neurological diseases and retinopathy, a disease that results in vision loss.

"Knowing how the ketogenic diet reverses nephropathy will help us identify a drug target and subsequent pharmacological interventions that mimic the effect of the diet," said Dr. Mobbs. "We look forward to studying this promising development further."

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Apr 20, 2011
I think that research in the near future is going to find that a Ketogenic or low-carb way of eating will have a big impact on many, many different health issues.

I wonder why that may be, maybe because we likely spent a couple million years surviving (and evolving) on a high Fat and protein diet, not Carbohydrates, which make up the bulk of what most people eat now.

Apr 21, 2011
One benefit attributed to the Ketogenic Diet is it increases lecithin. IS ? it the lecithin ?

"Lecithin (phosphatidyl choline). A phospholipid found mostly in high-fat foods. It is said to have the ability to improve memory and brain processes. Lecithin is necessary for normal brain development;however, double-blind studies of patients with Alzheimer's disease did not substantiate claims that it can help people recover lost brain function. The ketogenic diet increases the amount of lecithin in the body, which may be one of the reasons for its success in some cases of
hard-to-treat epilepsy. Some people with epilepsy have also reported reducing their number and severity of seizures from taking lecithin alone."

Apr 21, 2011
"Oral lecithin improves ultrafiltration in patients on peritoneal dialysis"

Apr 27, 2011
Ketogenic diet is sustainable over the long term. I have been doing it for over 8 years. Dr Mary Vernon who uses LCKD in her practice in Kansas has been reporting improved kidney function in diabetics for years now. The way ketogenic diet improves epilepsy appears to be because of reduced oxidative stress in the mitochondria of neurons when ketones are burned instead of glucose (Jarrett et al J.Neurochem 2008). This has broad implications beyond epilepsy. The idea that the effect of a ketogenic diet can be mimicked by a drug is laughable. Of course, unless you have a molecule to patent how are you going to get the funding to do more research on this very beneficial therapeutic intervention?

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