Caution: High Protein Diets May Trash Your Kidneys

Of the three food groups (carbohydrates, protein and fat), protein is the only one that contains nitrogen. Nitrogen is essential for the building/maintaining organs, muscles and hair. Unfortunately, too much nitrogen can overwork the kidneys. This may contribute to kidney destruction leading to death.


We have two kidneys that look like well, kidney beans. This pair of organs are filtering devices made up of 2 million functional units called nephrons. Each of these nephrons has a round colander-like piece that filters excess “stuff” from the blood to drain through the kidneys into the bladder (holding tank) for later excretion (pee-pee). Water and nutrients that are in short supply are recycled back into the blood.

Proteins can’t fit through the nephrons, so they are reabsorbed back into the body. If these filtering units are damaged by excess protein, they force their way out the body ending up in the urine. As more protein gets through the kidneys, progressive irreversible destruction continues till they start to fail. Then man-made technology takes over with the use of the process called dialysis. This procedure filters the blood mechanically for the body. It postpones death but significantly lowers quality of life.

Many individuals are looking to lose pounds in the fastest possible time. High protein/fat, low carbohydrate (Atkins Diet) usually turns this goal into only a short-term success story. It results in long term failure which includes adverse health effects.

The whole process is based on changing the way you breakdown foods resulting in ketosis. This abnormal metabolic process will induce a fast loss of stored fat but problems are:


  • Toxic to the kidney because this diet involves high amounts of protein. Breakdown products of protein (amino acids) still contain nitrogen, which in large amounts stress the nephrons.
  • Decreased appetite because ketones cause anorexic effects. Some dieters experience nausea and vomiting.
  • Ketones give off either a foul breath odor or an alcohol scent. This may cause colleagues to be convinced that you’re an alcoholic. People will no longer want to kiss you.
  • Increased cancer risk due to the diet being low in antioxidants, fiber, minerals and vitamins.
  • Mood swings may occur with low dietary carbohydrate because of this food group’s importance in raising serotonin levels.

Research published in Cell Metabolism, 19:3, 418-30, March 2014 showed that increased human longevity was linked to a diet low in protein and high in carbohydrates. The study was conducted over 18 years which included 6,000 men and women over the age of 50.



High dietary protein levels was associated with cancer, diabetes and increased mortality. The damage was even greater when protein intake was from meat rather than plant-derived protein.

Puzzling results came from those over 65 years of age. Those patients had increased longevity when they had higher dietary protein.

Renovating Your Mind thinks that as we age, we produce less stomach acid and lower amounts of digestive enzymes. They are both needed to breakdown protein into amino acids which are used to produce, maintain and repair ever cell in our body. In addition, older folks tend to consume less protein because of poor dental status and the expense factor for the purchase of meat products.

The only sub-groups that may benefit from higher protein levels (not excessive) are endurance runners and professional weightlifters. They need that extra protein to repair muscles damaged from intense workouts that rip apart muscle fibers.

Anything in excess, can throw you body out of sync, letting disease processes step in and take over. It doesn’t matter if that excess is fat, carbohydrate or protein.

Life is a gamble. There are no certainties that anyone even with the best diet, proper rest and exercise can live longer than average. Every single time you do something right for your body, you get another role with the dice of life. You get the opportunity daily to accumulate a winning combination that includes quality longevity. Make that happen every day by making the “right” choices with quality foods.

Everyone’s goal should be all about dying in your sleep peacefully with no chronic diseases ruining your awake state of affairs.




Photo credit: mtsn / Foter / CC BY-NC

Photo credit: Magh / Foter / CC BY-NC

Photo credit: reeveb / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: nata2 / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND


Categories: Food, Health, Nutrition, Weight Loss

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2 replies

  1. Rob,

    Just wanted to say HI!, and to tell you what FUN it was to finally meet you. I hope we get back to Denver for a concert, and other fun times this summer. Have a HUGE spring, and take good care of Martha Sue(-san). Your new Michigan friend, Cate:)


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