An Illawarra research team is seeking residents with kidney disease for a clinical trial into the affect of gut health on those with the condition.
The Illawarra Shoalhaven has the highest proportion of adults with signs of chronic kidney disease in Australia, with potential case numbers in the region double the national average.
PhD candidate Jordan Stanford said the data, complied for Kidney Health Australia by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, showed the region was a prime spot to carry out the research.
The Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI) researcher was part of a team involved in a systematic review of past studies into gut health and kidney disease, which found a major gap in research.
The team is now recruiting for their own study, to close that gap in knowledge.
"There is no cure for kidney disease, with many patients who have advanced to end stage having to resort to dialysis therapy or, if they're eligible, undergo a kidney transplant," Ms Stanford said.
"If you look at gut health, or microbiotics, it opens up a whole new avenue for potential interventions - through diet and other lifestyle factors - to prevent and manage kidney disease.
"... We know an imbalance of 'bugs' in our gut contributes to weight gain, high cholesterol and other conditions and diseases.
"So we wanted to look at people with kidney disease, and the different types of bugs in their gut, to see how that compared with those without the disease."
Ms Stanford said the team's landmark review of the existing research found that few studies looked at the effect of diet on gut health in those with the disease.
"We wanted to see if we could find ways of manipulating the bugs in the gut, through diet," she said. "For instance we wanted to know if there were specific fruits and vegetables that had more of a beneficial effect on gut health in those with chronic kidney disease.
"So now we're looking at doing clinical trials to try and answer those questions ourselves. We're currently recruiting people with kidney disease and giving them two dietary interventions to look at how these affect the bugs in their gut.
"We'll be monitoring their symptoms, kidney function and quality of life in order to see if we can find ways to use diet to improve their health."
For details on the trial, contact 4221 4600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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