Junk food can cause kidney damage

By Drum Digital
10 May 2016

Eating junk and fatty foods can cause as much damage to kidneys as diabetes, experts warn.

Researchers at the U.K.'s Anglia Ruskin University fed rats a diet of either junk food - consisting of cheese, chocolate bars and marshmallows - for eight weeks or a specially formulated food that was high in fat for five weeks.

The team then used animal models of diabetes and models of diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance to see how insulin resistance and too much sugar or fat affect glucose transporters in the kidneys.

The effect of the diets on these transporters was compared with the changes also seen in rat models of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

The results revealed that certain types of glucose transporters as well as their regulatory proteins were present in a higher number in Type 2 diabetic rats.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or does not react to it which causes an accumulation of sugar (glucose) in the blood that can have severe long-term consequences for organs, such as kidneys and can lead to diabetic kidney disease.

Lead researcher Dr Havovi Chichger said there is a well-established link between excessive consumption of junk food and recent increases in the prevalence of obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

"In our study, Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes both induce changes in glucose transport in the kidney, but junk food or a diet high in fat causes changes that are very similar to those found in Type 2 diabetes," she said.

"Understanding how diet can affect sugar handling in the kidneys, and understanding whether the use of new inhibitors can reverse these changes, could help to protect kidneys from further damage."

In the future Dr Chichger would be interested in finding ways to block glucose re-absorption in the kidneys which "could offer a potential treatment for lowering blood sugar levels".

The study was first published in the journal Experimental Physiology. © Cover Media

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