Artificial Sweeteners Putting Your Kidney on a Diet?

November 09, 2009

High fructose corn syrup and sugary soft drinks have been getting more than a bad rap lately

High fructose corn syrup and sugary soft drinks have been getting more than a bad rap lately. Practically singled out for their association with the rapid increase in chronic disease in the United States; some claim the sole cause of the obesity epidemic. A recent study, presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Nephrology may have proven that artificially sweetened beverages, although calorie-free, should be added to the list. 

The study reviewed dietary intake data from over3,000 participants in the Nurses' Health Study; a database that includes information on the general health, physical activity, diet, and other lifestyle factors of over 200,000 women. Dr. Julie Lin, Dr. Gary Curhan and a group of researchers from the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, studied beverage intake and its relationship with kidney function from data collected by the Nurses' Health Study over a period of eleven years. A significant decline in kidney function was observed when women reported drinking two or more artificially sweetened beverages a day.
There has been little research on the role of diet in kidney disease, but as reported by the Kidney and Urologic Diseases, a branch of the National Institutes of Health, approximately 11% of adults in the United States have physiological evidence of chronic kidney disease. The kidneys are essential in filtering the blood, separating tissues, hormones and other chemical messenger from wastes that will ultimately be excreted as urine. The two most common causes of kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure; but as mentioned above there has been little study on the link between diet and kidney function. 
After reviewing and comparing data on kidney function from 1989 to 2000, researchers found that over 10%, or 372 women displayed kidney function decline of 30% or more. Dr. Lin and her team then looked at dietary intake data and found that the 30% decline was associated with drinking two or more artificially sweetened sodas a day. The staggering 30% statistic held true after researchers accounted for other factors such as physical activity, age, high blood pressure and diabetes.

No association was observed between sugary sweetened drinks including, soda, fruit juices, punch, and iced tea and kidney decline.  

Although aging is associated with a slight yearly decline in kidney function, a 30% decline over two years is no less than shocking – especially when many diet or artificially sweetened beverages, because of the calorie-free allure, are consumed in larger portions. 
Researchers acknowledge the significance of the results and realize that more specific dietary intake data, and the actual mechanism of kidney function decline need to be studied. 
Diet sodas can help curb calorie consumption, but consumers should realize they provide little to no nutrition, do not hydrate as well as water and as the results of this study have demonstrated, may have negative effects on kidney function. Encourage shoppers to drink more water, fresh fruit juices, and teas. Marketing reusable water bottles in beverage aisles not only encourages shoppers to aid in recycling and 'producing less-wastes' efforts but also allows them to remain hydrated and healthy on the go. Helping shoppers stay healthy is sure to keep them happy and coming back for more!

Click here for more information on Kidney Disease.