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Fruits, vegetables can cut medicine cost in half for kidney disease patients

Better treatment of acid buildup in the kidneys resulted in significant reductions in blood pressure, as well.

Stephen Feller
Adding three to four servings of fruits and vegetables not only allowed participants in a recent study to reduce acid in their kidneys and lower their blood pressure, but it reduced the cost of medication by about half, researchers report. Photo by American Heart Association
People with kidney disease who eat more fruits and vegetables may require far fewer medications -- about half -- according to a new study.
Researchers at Texas Tech University found dietary changes allowed for better management of blood pressure and lessened the amount of medication by significant margins, according to the study, presented at the American Heart Association's High Blood Pressure 2016 Scientific Sessions.
Diseased kidneys have reduced ability to eliminate acid, causing metabolic acidosis, or high acid levels in the blood, which is often treated with sodium bicarbonate.
For the study, researchers randomized 108 participants to either receive sodium bicarbonate, increase intake of fruits and vegetables or receive no treatment for acidosis. All of the patients also were treated with medications to reduce their blood pressure, as well.
After five years, the average systolic blood pressure of participants eating more fruits and vegetables was lower than those those treated with sodium bicarbonate or not treated.
In addition, patients changing their diet, rather than receiving sodium bicarbonate or nothing, saw the costs of their blood pressure medication drop by nearly half when compared to the other groups: For those receiving no treatment, the cost was $152,305, and for patients on sodium bicarbonate, treatments cost $155,372, while the fruit and vegetable group saw their costs drop to about $79,760.
"It was remarkable that we achieved better blood pressure control using fewer drugs and without forcing people to change their diet completely," Dr. Nimrit Goraya, program director for nephrology at Baylor Scott and White Health and one of the authors on the study, said in a press release.
"In the long run, adding three to four servings of fruits and vegetables to the diet reduces blood pressure and lets people take fewer blood pressure drugs, reducing their medical costs," Goraya added.

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