Overall Diet Recommendations for Patients on Dialysis
General Kidney Disfunction: When diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, diet becomes an important aspect in keeping you healthy and making it easier for your body to handle dialysis. Benefits of good nutrition include increased ability to maintain a healthy weight, decreased muscle deterioration, and slowing the progression of kidney disease. Below are items that affect the health of your kidneys. Your dietitian will review these with you frequently.
Potassium: Potassium is a chemical found in food and your body that aids in muscle contractions. When your kidneys fail it is more difficult to remove extra potassium in the blood which can lead to Hyperkalemia (high potassium). Signs and symptoms of increased potassium are weakness, numbness & tingling, nausea, slow pulse, irregular heartbeat, and chest pain. Dialysis patients experiencing these symptoms should call their doctor immediately. Some food items contain a large amount of potassium and should be eaten in small amounts or avoided. High potassium foods include potatoes, bananas, oranges/orange juice, spinach, avocados, dried fruit, milk, coconuts, mangos, tomatoes, and salt substitutes.
Phosphorus: Phosphorus is a mineral needed by the body for building bone, repairing body cells, and keeping nerves/muscles healthy. Healthy kidneys get rid of excess phosphorus in the urine. When kidneys are not healthy an increased amount of phosphorus remains in the body leading to bone problems. Symptoms of elevated phosphorus may include itching, muscle pain, bones that break easily, calcification (calcium deposits) of the heart, skin, joints, and blood vessels. To avoid these problems, it is important to limit phosphorus consumption and take phosphorus binders with meals and snacks. Foods that contain high phosphorus include milk, bran cereals, beer, pizza, cola beverages, hot dogs, yogurt, pancakes and waffles.
Protein: As a dialysis patient, your protein needs are higher due to protein lost during each dialysis treatment. Increasing the amount of protein in your diet helps replace the amount removed during the dialysis process. The best type of protein (high quality protein) comes from animal sources such as beef, chicken, eggs, fish, lamb, pork, turkey, and veal. Avoid meats such as bacon, bologna, ham, hot dogs, salami, and sausage because they are high in sodium. Milk and milk products (cheese and yogurt), soy products, and nuts are good protein sources, but need to be limited because they are high in phosphorus.
Sodium: Sodium (salt) causes your body to retain water. Having too much salt in your body will increase the chance of having more fluid build up in the body. Items that contain high amounts of salt are table salt, bouillon cubes, BBQ sauce, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, chips, popcorn, salted lunch meats, bacon, hot dogs, soups, canned vegetables, frozen tv dinners, chili, macaroni and cheese, and many fast foods.
Fluid: Fluid overload can happen when too much fluid accumulates in your body. One of the main functions of the kidney is to balance the amount of fluid in your body. Too much fluid can have a harmful or even a deadly effect on your body. Symptoms of fluid overload may include swelling, high blood pressure, and difficulty with breathing. Tips for avoiding fluid overload are to track your fluid, manage your thirst throughout the day, and decrease sodium in your diet.