Diets high in plant-based proteins might preserve cognitive function in adults with chronic kidney disease (CKD), according to new research findings presented at the American Society of Nephrology’s Kidney Week 2022 conference in Orlando, Florida.

“Cognitive function tends to worsen as kidney function declines,” Jessica Kendrick, MD, MPH, of the University of Colorado Denver explained in an interview with Renal & Urology News. “Our findings suggest that a diet higher in plant-based protein may be protective against cognitive decline.”

Using data from the 2011-2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the investigators calculated plant-based protein intake for 756 participants with CKD aged 60 years and older (48.8% male). The mean estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) was 60.5 mL/min/1.73 m2 and the mean urinary albumin to creatinine ratio was 39.4 mg/g.

Continue Reading

Median plant protein intake was 19.7 g per day. Patients with a higher vs lower plant-based protein intake than this median value were a significant 54% and 21% more likely to have higher cognitive scores on the Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer’s disease (CERAD) and the Animal Fluency test (AFT), respectively, Dr Kendrick and colleagues reported. The fully adjusted model accounted for age, sex, race and ethnicity, education level, body mass index, dietary animal protein, diabetes, and hypertension.

Of the cohort, 46.0% were White, 32.0% Black, 11.8% Hispanic, 5.3% Asian, 4.0% Mexican American, and 0.9% mixed race.

“It is possible that plant-based protein intake represents lower dietary acid load or other healthy habits that may be associated with improved cognitive performance,” Dr Kendrick stated. “Plant based diets are being shown to be helpful for various outcomes in CKD including blood pressure and kidney disease progression. Our data support the need for a randomized trial.”

Plant proteins include foods such as beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, grains, vegetables, and fruits.


Perez LM, You Z, Kendrick JB, et al. Association of plant-based protein intake with cognitive function in adults with CKD. Presented at: Kidney Week 2022; November 3-6, Orlando, Florida. Poster TH-PO800.