Can polycystic kidney disease be reversed? Researchers make diet-based discovery

The Kamloops Kidney Support Group gathers twice a month and we almost always have someone there who has been diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease (PKD) or has a family member with it.

According to the Kidney Foundation of Canada:

PKD “is a genetic disorder that causes multiple cysts to form in the kidneys. Polycystic kidneys become very large, have a bumpy surface and contain many fluid-filled cysts. This can be associated with a number of conditions, including: High blood pressure, urinary and kidney infections, kidney stones, and kidney failure.”

Also from the foundation’s website: “PKD can strike anyone at any time. About five per cent of all people requiring dialysis or kidney transplantation have PKD.”

(That info, and more, can be found right here.)

Last week, though, there was some big news involving PKD.

In a piece headlined ‘Reversing polycystic kidney disease,’ Sonia Fernandez of the U of California Santa Barbara writes:

“Thanks to research conducted by UC Santa Barbara biochemist Thomas Weimbs, postdoctoral researcher Jacob Torres and their team, a solution may be no farther than the end of your fork. Diet, they discovered, could hold the key to treating PKD.”

Until now, PKD, as Fernandez writes, “has long been thought to be progressive and irreversible, condemning its sufferers to a long, slow and often painful decline as fluid-filled cysts develop in the kidneys, grow and eventually rob the organs of their function.”

The only options, at this point, are dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Now, though, scientists believe that they have “identified the specific metabolic process responsible for slowing the progress of the disease” in mice.

As Weimbs told Fernandez: “There’s a way of avoiding the development of the cysts through dietary interventions that lead to ketosis.”

Fernandez added: “You heard that right: Ketosis, the underlying metabolic state of popular diets such as the ketogenic diet, and, to a lesser extent, time-restricted feeding (a form of intermittent fasting), has been shown in the Weimbs group’s studies to stall and even reverse PKD.”

Fernandez’s complete story is right here.

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