Red Meat Could Be Damaging Your Kidneys

Red Meat Could Be Damaging Your Kidneys


Red Meat Could Be Damaging Your Kidneys

Written by: Lindsay Sibson

“You can have a great beef dinner in no time at all.”

BEEF – it’s what’s for dinner.”

Does anyone else remember seeing this commercial over and over again back in the 90’s?

Not only did this message of meat consumption interrupt your favorite television show, but you most likely have been told time and time again to eat meat because “you need protein!”

However, recent studies are discovering that eating too much red meat could be damaging your kidneys.

A large study from Singapore suggests that eating red meat increases your risk of kidney failure. Additionally, exchanging even ONE daily serving of red meat for another protein may reduce this risk.

The takeaway? The relationship between red meat consumption and kidney disease is “dose dependent” – meaning:

The more red meat you eat, the greater your risk for kidney disease.

It was discovered that red meat intake (more specifically pork) is STRONGLY associated with an increased risk of losing normal kidney function and end-stage renal disease.

A professor at Duke-BUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore, Dr. Woon-Puay Koh stated that:

Our findings suggest that patients with chronic kidney disease or the general population worried about their kidney health can still maintain protein intake but consider switching to plant-based sources.

However, if they still choose to eat meat, fish/shellfish and poultry are better alternatives to red meat.”

The link between red meat and kidney disease even held up after compensation for lifestyle and health condition factors that could potentially skew the results.

It has also been shown in plenty of studies that low-protein diets may benefit people who already HAVE kidney damage, which is about 20 million Americans, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

New cases more than doubled among people 65 and older between 2000 and 2008. Even though in more recent years new cases of kidney disease have leveled off, the number of people requiring kidney dialysis continues to rise.

Red meat has been under scrutiny in recent studies and reports for it’s potentially damaging effects to human health:

  • In 2015 The World Health Organization declared a warning for a possible connection between red meat and cancer.
  • In November of 2015, a study in the Cancer journal found that cooking meat at high temperatures could potentially influence kidney cancer risk. 

A new study is emerging that followed more than 63,000 Chinese adults in Singapore for around 15 years.

Data on people’s daily protein consumption was documented with food questionnaires and found that:

  • 97% of red meat intake consisted of pork
    • Other protein sources include fish/shellfish, eggs, poultry, dairy, soy and legumes
    • NOTE: even though pork turns a pale white color when cooked, it is still considered RED meat
  • People consuming the highest amounts of red meat had a 40% INCREASED risk of developing end-stage kidney disease
    • Compared with people who ate the lowest amounts
  • NO association was found with poultry, fish, eggs, or dairy products
    • Soy and legumes appeared to be slightly protective
    • Read about healthy meat alternatives HERE
  • Replacing ONE serving of red meat with another protein reduced the risk of kidney disease
    • Up to 62% for poultry! 

However, it should also be noted that the study does not necessarily establish cause and effect.

According to Betsy Booren, the Vice President of Scientific Affairs at North American Meat Institute in Washington, D.C. (represents U.S. meat processors and packers):

“It is inappropriate and premature to attempt to apply these findings to the North American population as the cause of a medical condition.”

Furthermore, the difference between Chinese and American diets, genetics, ethnic backgrounds and meat production practices also plays a factor in the results.

Note: this study was supported by funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health and was published in the Journal of American Society of Nephrology July 14th.

To learn more about how to prevent kidney disease, you can visit the National Kidney Institute’s website.



Lindsay Sibson

Lindsay Sibson

Lindsay Sibson turned her lifelong dream of traveling the world into a reality when she first stepped on a plan in April of 2014. With the simple intention of learning more about this beautiful world, she stepped away from corporate America to explore an alternative lifestyle of long term international travel, volunteering, blogging and pursuing a blissfully happy and fulfilling way of life.

Lindsay documents her journey in hopes of empowering others to find their passion, reignite their spark and freshen their outlook on life. Connect with her on her website and follow her travels on Instagram (

Through her blog, Lindsay documents her journey in hopes of empowering others to find their passion, reignite their spark and freshen their outlook on life.
Lindsay Sibson

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