A good diet is a very important part of dialysis treatment. Since the patient’s kidneys cannot eliminate enough waste and fluids from their body, they need special treatment which includes a good diet as well as limiting fluid intake. A diet for a dialysis patient is specially planned for their condition which includes foods with limited potassium, phosphorus, fluids and sodium. 1 Patient’s are advised to eat foods with high-quality protein since they produce less waste which could be helpful for dialysis treatment.

Dialysis patients often do not have the need to eat a lot. Since most foods provide energy, not eating enough could lead to less calorie intake and less energy. A special diet to add more calories in a healthy way could be a solution for these patients. A renal dietitian is the best person to discuss a diet with as well as to ask for advice on a diet for people on dialysis.

How to know whether your diet is good enough

The dialysis team will examine a patient on a regular basis to ensure that their diet is sufficient. This includes examining the fat and muscle stores in your face, hands, arms, shoulders, and legs as well as the changes in the blood level of proteins. When a problem is detected, a protein supplement could be helpful to increase the protein levels and a recommendation to eat small frequent meals and snacks. An important factor for eating well and staying healthy is also receiving the right amount of dialysis. 2

What to eat and what not to eat for dialysis patients

In order to keep the blood pressure under control, it is advised to limit the intake of salt and foods that contain lots of salt. Eating salty foods leads to thirst which increases the need to drink more fluid. Eating more protein foods is advised to a dialysis patient. Protein improves healthy blood protein levels and keeps the muscles strong. Eating high protein foods like meat, fish, poultry, fresh pork, or eggs can strengthen the patient’s immune system enhance their health in general.

Since dairy products are very high in phosphorus, it is advised to limit the intake of milk and milk products like cheese and yoghurt. Phosphorus is a mineral found in many foods. Phosphorus tends to build up in a patient’s blood when they receive dialysis treatment. This is called “hyperphosphatemia” and can lead to weak bones which could break easily if not treated. 3

Some fruits and vegetables contain some potassium. In this case, these fruits and vegetables should be limited or not be eaten at all. Getting in too much potassium can cause temporary or long-term health problems. Healthy kidneys maintain normal potassium levels in the body because they remove excess amounts through urine which is not the case when a patient has kidney disease. 4

How long does a dialysis diet need to be followed?

A dialysis diet will need to be followed for as long as the patient receives dialysis treatment. During this time there might be some adjustments to the diet in order to fir to the patient’s current health condition.

How does the dialysis diet help?

Eating the correct way during dialysis treatment will help the patient maintain a healthy and strong immune system. This includes eating the right amount of certain foods which their body can handle for that moment and for the current condition. Eating the wrong amount of certain foods can lead to a weak immune system or even make the heart stop beating. Not only food but also the amount of fluid taken in can lead to discomforts like swelling, shortness of breath or high blood pressure.

Dialysis dietitians and health teams recommend a dialysis diet in order for dialysis treatments to be effective and help reduce the risk of health complications associated with kidney disease and dialysis. This will also make the patient feel good and healthy which is part of good dialysis treatment. 5

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