Complete dialysis patient diet plan: Foods to eat and avoid
“You are what you eat”
Notice how models and gym-goers emphasise on eating a well-balanced diet. One week of a salad-based diet can prepare them to feature on a magazine cover. What you eat literally acts as fuel for your body. A highly nutritious diet can do wonders for a healthy person. For a chronically ill person, it can alter the course of life. People living with chronic kidney diseases would understand the importance of consuming sufficient nutrients. However, planning a dialysis patient’s diet chart needs clinical help.
In this article, Dr Mohit Khirbat, a leading nephrologist at the CK Birla Hospital will help you design the best diet plan for dialysis patients.
Why is a dialysis patient diet important?
To understand the importance of diet for patients on dialysis, let us rewind some school-time biology. Dialysis is offered to patients suffering from chronic kidney diseases.
In human anatomy, kidneys are bean-shaped organs responsible for filtering waste generated by our body. However, sometimes the functioning of the kidneys can be disrupted due to various reasons. As the kidneys fail to function properly, the waste can get buildup and cause harm to the body, in general.
In such situations, healthcare providers offer dialysis to keep the body functioning. A dialysis machine helps to maintain the balance by managing the kidney’s functions. Dialysis treatment helps to remove extra waste, salt and water from the body.
However, even during dialysis some waste can fluid can buildup. A prolonged collection of these substances in the body can lead to heart and bone problems.
Dialysis patient diet comes in place when the patient is willing to benefit entirely from the treatment and avoid additional health problems. It is important to properly track and consume only sufficient nutrients. A dialysis patient is required to cautiously avoid specific food items as well to prevent any health complications.
What is necessary for a dialysis patient’s diet chart?
It is important to understand that dialysis cannot replace the functioning of a kidney. Dialysis is a treatment that only offers support to patients with end-stage kidney diseases. Therefore, a conscious choice of food should be made to maintain health.
There is a range of foods good for a kidney dialysis patient. However, in a dialysis patient diet chart, the focus should be kept on four key areas:
Potassium foods for dialysis patient
Potassium is an essential mineral which is considered highly beneficial for dialysis patients. It is important for the healthy functioning of nerves and muscles including the heart.
An increased amount of potassium in the body can lead to heart problems such as irregular heartbeats and even cardiac arrest. On the other hand, a low potassium intake can cause muscle cramps and difficulty in breathing. The key is moderation.
Dialysis patients are required to monitor their potassium intake and restrict it to a moderate level.
Most fruits and vegetables are generally high in potassium. You can remove some amount of potassium from vegetables by the process of leaching. Leaching means removing potassium amount from raw vegetables by soaking them in the water at least two hours before cooking.
Other food products with a high amount of potassium are nuts, seeds, coconuts, wholegrain cereals, brown sugar and more.
Sodium foods for dialysis patient
Sodium is a necessary electrolyte for body functions that helps in the regulation of blood pressure. Sodium also helps in regulating acid and base balance in the body fluids.
Despite being necessary, an increased level of sodium can lead to multiple health problems in a kidney dialysis patient. These include hypertension, edema and shortness of breath among others.
Therefore, it is mandatory for dialysis patients to restrict their sodium intake. Sodium is most commonly found in salt. Minimising the levels of salt in your meals can be really helpful. Other items such as processed foods are some foods for a dialysis patient to avoid.
Phosphorus foods for dialysis patient
The energy that our body produces is stored with the help of phosphorus. It is an essential mineral required by our body to utilise other vitamins and minerals. Additionally, the strength of our bones and teeth are maintained by phosphorus and calcium.
Products rich in phosphorus are foods for a dialysis patient to avoid. It is because dialysis cannot manage the required level of this mineral in our body. A high level, on the other hand, can cause various complications such as renal bone disease, skin itching and more.
Fluids in the best diet plan for dialysis patient
A patient who receives kidney dialysis needs to establish a strong control on his/her fluid intake. It is because fluid removal is an integral function of the kidneys. When the kidneys do not function properly, the excess water can get collected and move to the body cells. An excess buildup of fluids in cells can cause swelling of the feet and hands, commonly known as edema. More so, the extra volume of fluids can enter tissues present in the lungs and disrupt their functioning leading to breathlessness.
In such cases, a patient is only dependent on dialysis for the removal of fluids from the body. The best method to avoid the above-given health complications is to limit the intake of fluids.
Furthermore, even dialysis can remove a certain quantity of fluids, therefore a restriction on the consumption of fluids at the first hand is the best preventive measure.
Tips to limit your fluid intake –
- Do not gulp down a whole glass of fluids in one go. Try to drink it in sips.
- Choose drinks such as juices to restrict water intake.
- Reduce salt intake as more salt makes you more thirsty.
Dialysis patient diet plan
Note: The requirements of each dialysis patient is different. The above-given information can help you custom-make your diet chart. You should ensure to restrict sodium and phosphorus intake while moderately managing the quantity of potassium. Sometimes food items have low sodium but are rich in calories. It is, thus, important to carefully design a plan that does not overwhelm you with one nutrient and drive you of another. You can discuss these tips with your healthcare provider to prepare a personalised dietary plan.
The concluding note
Dialysis diet plan becomes significant from the day you start taking treatment. The treatment of kidney disease is key for managing symptoms and removing waste from your body. It is up to you to make a conscious choice and live a healthy life during dialysis sessions. Dietary intake along with the following medications are vital components for the success of the treatment.
To learn more about kidney disease or plan your dialysis patient diet chart, you can book an appointment with Dr Mohit Khirbat, a leading nephrologist at the CK Birla Hospital.