Diet for Kidney Disease (Dialysis Diet)
Dialysis is an artificial way of doing some of the work of the kidneys, but it cannot replace the natural function of the kidneys. If you are on dialysis you need to carefully regulate your kidney diet.
All the information about diet for patients in the early stage of kidney failure apply to dialysis and transplant patients, especially the information on potassium, phosphate, and sodium. No matter what your state of health, you can almost always improve your condition by simple measures such as not smoking, eating healthily, and exercising regularly. Such measures will help you lose weight if you are obese.
Weight loss is a problem that causes particular concern in kidney failure. This is usually because patients are not eating enough protein and energy-providing food. Malnourished people lose weight and muscle mass. Malnutrition can develop with patients on either hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis. Dietitians monitor renal patients for any signs of malnutrition.
Obesity can cause practical problems for people on dialysis. Overweight people with fat arms can have particular problems with access for hemodialysis. Their veins can be difficult to reach, or weak, and therefore difficult to make a fistula from. Peritoneal dialysis is less likely to work for patients who have a fat or distended tummy.
Overweight patients should refer to a dietitian for advice. Reversing obesity will not cure kidney failure, but it will bring significant health benefits.
Some patients lose their appetite and you may be asked to increase your food intake to prevent malnutrition from developing.
Pay special attention to specific aspects of kidney diet and nutrition such as your intake of iron, phosphate and calcium, potassium, protein, sodium, and vitamins, all discussed in this section. Check with your dietitian if you are unsure about any aspect of your renal diet.
Phosphate and calcium
Treatment for kidney patients aims to raise blood calcium levels and lower blood phosphate levels. This can be achieved by moderating the phosphate content of your diet, by adequate dialysis, and by the use of a phosphate binder taken with meals.
However, it is difficult to cut down on phosphate intake without also lowering protein intake.
The dietitian will try to find out if a patient is eating anything that might lead to a high level of potassium. Hemodialysis patients might have to avoid such high-potassium foods as chocolate, and moderate their intake of other potassium-contianing foods such as bananas.
Peritoneal dialysis patients rarely need to restrict their potassium intake.
When the time for dialysis draws closer, some patients do not feel as hungry as they used to, and some food, particularly meat products, may taste 'funny'. Special dietary supplements may help such patients maintain adequate protein intake.
It is very important to follow your dietitian's advice regarding your protein intake.
May 1, 2006