Nutrition and Hemodialysis
Food gives your body the energy it needs to function properly and repair itself. Healthy eating habits can help you feel better and prevent complications when you are on dialysis. It is important to get the right amount of calories and protein, stay at a healthy body weight, and avoid excessive intake of certain nutrients (sodium, phosphorous, and potassium).
Calories give your body energy and help your body use protein to build muscles and tissues. It is important to get the right amount of calories so you can prevent weight loss or large weight gains while on dialysis. The dietitian can help you determine how many calories you should eat daily.
Protein is important for building muscle, repairing tissues and fighting infections. You may have been told to restrict protein intake prior to beginning dialysis to prevent the buildup of waste products. However, your body requires much more protein once dialysis is started. Good sources of protein include lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, beans and nuts.
Sodium is a mineral that can cause you to retain fluid, causing swelling, shortness of breath, elevated blood pressure, and it can make your heart work harder. Eating too much sodium can also make you thirsty which can increase your fluid intake leading to the above symptoms. Avoid foods high in salt like seasonings, canned foods, frozen dinners, processed meats, salted snacks, and restaurant/take out foods. Do not add salt to your food and avoid using salt substitutes that contain potassium.
Potassium is a mineral that helps our muscles and heart work properly. However, too much or too little potassium can be life-threatening. Your potassium level will be checked routinely on dialysis and you will most likely need to limit foods that are high in potassium. Many fruits and vegetables like bananas, melons, oranges, potatoes, tomatoes and some juices are high in potassium. Also avoid milk/yogurt, dried beans, peas, and salt substitutes.
Phosphorous is a mineral found in all foods. Eating foods high in phosphorous can raise the amount of phosphorous in your blood, which causes calcium to be pulled from your bones. Over time, this leads to weak, brittle bones. Calcium phosphorous crystals can also build up in your joints, muscles, skin, blood vessels and heart. Avoid foods high in phosphorous like dairy products, nuts, peanut butter, dried beans, peas, and colas.
The registered dietitian can be very helpful in providing individualized recommendations for the above nutrients.
**Source: National Kidney Foundation**