For many patients with chronic kidney disease nearing renal failure, dialysis may be an upcoming reality. Dialysis patient have a lot of dietary restrictions.
What kind of dietary restrictions do dialysis patients have?
The biggest restriction for dialysis patients is sodium. Patients need to watch their sodium intake closely. It is one of the functions of the kidneys to filter and flush out excess sodium, so when the kidneys are not functioning properly there can be a buildup of sodium in the body. Too much sodium can lead to fluid retention, which can cause dangerous swelling, high blood pressure, and even heart failure.Speaking of fluid, that is another restriction for dialysis patients. Patients with renal failure often have to control how much fluid they put into their bodies, whether by food or drink.
Potassium, phosphorus, and calcium are a few other ingredients that most dialysis patients have to look out for. The kidneys are responsible for flushing all the excess and waste out of the body, but they aren’t able to do so and levels can become elevated and dangerous.
Doesn’t dialysis do all that for you?
Technically, yes. Dialysis does what it can to replace the function of the kidneys and clean the blood of excess fluid and waste. Patients still have to follow a careful diet, however, because most dialysis is only done a few times a week so there are times in between to keep track of. Not only that, but the dialysis machine can only do so much. You might have to put some effort into keeping your body healthy and ready for the dialysis machine so it can do the most for you.
Eating better will also help to reduce some of the symptoms that come along with kidney failure, such as nausea and fatigue.
So, what can I eat?
There are still a wide variety of foods that you can eat. Speak with your doctor and dietician to find out exactly which restrictions you personally need to abide by, because every patient is different in some way.
Here are some secrets to eating well for pre-dialysis patients:
There are certain foods that have anti-inflammatory properties that can help with swelling and edema that a lot of dialysis patients experience. Look for fresh leafy green vegetables, unsalted walnuts, and some types of fish.
You don’t need salt to make your food taste good. There are tons of salt free herb and spice mixes available to you that make your food taste great without the added salt.
Since you need to avoid all the salt and preservatives that are pumped into many lunch meats, instead use leftover meats from dinner or cook and slice chicken or turkey to be used specifically for lunches.
Most grocery stores now have salt-free or low sodium snack options. Look for unsalted pretzels, tortilla chips, and popcorn.
Pre-dialysis patients do follow a more restrictive diet plan to ready them for dialysis and to not overload their kidneys. This does not mean that there’s nothing to eat, however. With these guidelines and secrets, you will have plenty to eat.
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Also published on Medium.