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Diet may 'reverse kidney failure' in diabetics

Last updated: 25 April, 2011
London, Apr 25, (PTI): 17:56 IST

A controlled diet high in fat and low in carbohydrate may help repair kidney damage in diabetics, a new study has found.

Researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York found a "ketogenic diet" could reverse the damage caused to tubes in the kidneys by too much sugar in the blood.

For their study, the researchers used laboratory mice with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Once kidney damage had developed, half the mice were put onto the ketogenic diet, which is 87 per cent fat and mimics the effect of starvation.

After eight weeks, the researchers noted that kidney damage was reversed in those rodents which were on the highly controlled diet, the BBC News reported. Professor Charles Mobbs, who led the research at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, said: "Our study is the first to show that a dietary intervention alone is enough to reverse this serious complication of diabetes."

Though the findings have raised hope for people suffering from diabetes, the scientists insisted that more research is needed to ascertain whether such a diet would yield same benefits for humans too.

"I certainly think it has promise, but I can't recommend it until we have done clinical trials," Professor Mobbs said. The researchers also need to figure out the exact process that leads to repair, he added.

Dr Iain Frame, director of research at Diabetes UK, said: "This research was carried out in mice so it is difficult to see how these results would translate into any real benefits for people with diabetes at this stage.

"It is too simple to say that kidney failure could be prevented by diet alone and it is also questionable whether the diet used in this model would be sustainable for humans, even in the short term."

Helen Nickerson, from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, which part funded the research, said: "Dr Mobbs' novel observation could lead to new molecular insights in diabetic kidney disease." The study was published in journal PLoS ONE.

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