Diet During Dialysis

Once one is on dialysis several lifestyle changes need to be made. Your daily dietary intake will impact the efficiency and effectiveness of dialysis, whether it is peritoneal or hemodialysis. It is important to consult with a dietician once you get started on dialysis.

Diet During Dialysis

Why is Diet so Important in Dialysis Patients?

Many of us have been inundated with dietary advice throughout our lives. It’s easy to ignore when you’re young and healthy, but eventually poor dietary choices will catch up to you and even quicker so if you have kidney failure!

It’s the kidneys job to filter out waste, excess salt, water, potassium, and other electrolytes from our body that are in excess. Dialysis is only necessary when your kidneys have failed can no longer perform these functions.

Remember: In-center hemodialysis treatments last 3-4 hours and are done 3 times per week (that’s 9-12 hours per week of cleaning your blood) – while our normal kidneys function 24/7. Although dialysis is a surrogate for our kidneys, it has a larger task to complete in a shorter amount of time. That’s why regulating your diet if you are on dialysis is important. It helps lighten the load to prevent harmful buildup!

Diet Tip #1
Regulating Fluid Intake

Approved Fluids: Water, tea, coffee, soup,  ice (since it liquefies at room temperature is considered water)

But remember what they say about too much of a good thing. Drinking an excess of fluid leads to water retention and weight gain. This results in swelling of the legs, shortness of breath, and high blood pressure. Moderation is our friend! Talk to your nutritionist or doctor to help you manage your fluid intake.


Tips if you get thirsty:

Chew gum or suck on hard candy

Suck on ice so it lasts longer

Rinse out mouth with water, don’t swallow

Diet Tip #2
Put the Salt Shaker Down

In dialysis patients, a high salt diet can quickly raise the blood pressure. It also leads to fluid retention. In general, processed and frozen foods tend to have a lot of salt. Read the nutrition labels to check for daily intake!

Diet Tip #3
Stay Strong with Protein

Protein helps your muscles stay strong. High protein foods include meat, chicken, fish, and eggs. Protein (along with fiber) also helps with satiety to manage weight and discourage overeating.

Peritoneal dialysis patients in particular require extra protein as the body loses it with each peritoneal dialysis treatment.

Diet Tip #4
Be Wary of Excess Potassium

We’ve all heard that bananas are pretty great because of all the potassium, right? But did you know that excess potassium is actually bad for your diet during dialysis? Too much potassium in the body can lead to an abnormal rhythm of the heart and potential death.

Varieties or fruits and vegetables are high in potassium. See here for a more detailed list or ask your doctor for one.

Diet Tip #5
Phosphorus Isn’t Helping

Build up of phosphorus can lead to weak bones and other problems. This is a nutrient found in milk, other dairy foods, nuts, beans, liver, and chocolate. Your doctor may prescribe a ‘phosphorus binder’ or medicine for you to take with your meals and snacks. This medicine when taken with food will bind to the phosphorus in your stomach and prevent absorption.

Diet Tip #6
Vitamins Help Pick Up the Slack

Advanced CKD and dialysis patients are often deficient in water soluble vitamins: the B complex ones. Your doctor may prescribe a vitamin for you to take every day. Your body will get the vitamins and minerals that might be missing in your diet.

Have Questions about Diet During Dialysis?

If you’re concerned about your dietary routine for dialysis treatments, you should consult with a nephrologist. Dr. Gandotra’s offices are located in Orange County, California. If you’d like to book an appointment today, call Dr. G’s office phone: (714) 435-0150