Diet tips for dialysis patients

Diet tips for dialysis patients

Suffering from kidney disease? Confused about what to eat? People with kidney disease have a hard time figuring out what is best for them.

I have often noticed patients being advised by family and friends on what foods to include or exclude based on their knowledge or experience with other patients.

Although a lot of that information is available on the Internet and other sources, one should not experiment without fully understanding the actual needs of a patient. The fact remains that different stages of kidney disease require different diets based on laboratory results and medical complications.

These organs serve several functions in the body. Kidneys are vital organs that filter the blood and keep the body chemically balanced. They remove the excess nutrients, toxic waste products and fluids through urine. The improper functioning of the kidney results in decrease of urine formation.

Also, the loss of kidney function can lead to building up of uremic toxins, fluid retention, high blood pressure, altered protein metabolism, muscle degradation, poor appetite, electrolyte imbalance, bone disease, anemia, etc., which can prove fatal.

Eating a healthy and balanced diet is important to keep the kidneys vital, especially for people who have been diagnosed with kidney ailments.

However, patients with the disease should control the intake of protein, fluid, sodium, potassium, phosphorus and calcium to regulate and manage their condition.

They would require a special diet that will help them avoid excess build up of these minerals, waste and fluid depending upon the functional capacity of the kidney.

Dialysis diet tips

All foods contain potassium. Avoid foods like tomatoes, oranges, bananas which have very high amounts of potassium. A high intake of potassium can cause an irregular heart beat rate or even stop the heart from functioning.

During summer, make sure you limit your intake of high phosphorus foods like cola. Use lemon juice or garlic for seasoning instead of salt. Adhere to the recommended allowance of liquid.

This will prevent excessive pressure on your heart and steer clear of a difficult dialysis. Avoid activities which can cause unwanted thirst. Know your protein requirement to fight infections effectively and heal lesions.

Include a good source of protein at each meal.

Eat your food slowly and avoid overeating.  It takes 20 minutes for the brain to know that your stomach is full. Else, you may end up consuming more potassium, sodium and phosphorus than the limit.

Remember, what’s good food for one person may be bad for another. Regardless of the time spent on dialysis, compliance with the difficult diet regimen is better with periodic professional counselling.

Find ways to improve the quality of eating by knowing the right foods for your individual requirement.

A dietitian can monitor the long-term nutritional status of dialysis patients and help them eat a palatable diet that suits their lifestyles.

(She is a consultation dietician at NephroPlus.)

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