Diet tips when on dialysis

When you have chronic kidney disease, and it gets to the point where your kidneys are no longer able to filter waste for excretion, you will have to go through dialysis.

This is the process where a machine acts like an ‘external kidney’ — clearing and excreting waste.

During this time, one needs to monitor intake of certain nutrients so as to increase effectiveness of the dialysis process and also not to over burden the already very sick kidneys.

One such nutrient is sodium which can cause a build up of fluid in the body. You can start by reducing your salt intake and use herbs and other spices for flavor instead. Be careful about using salt substitutes as most of them contain potassium, a nutrient which you also need to be cautious about. Try to avoid salty snacks like crisps and treated meats like sausages, smokies and hot dogs. These contain a lot of sodium.

Watch your potassium intake when on dialysis as too much of it can bring heart complications. Foods high in potassium include oranges, bananas, beans and some vegetables. Some low potassium foods include apples, peaches, pineapples and pears.

You might want to increase your protein intake to cater for protein losses. Ensuring you have enough protein will also go a long way in helping maintain blood pressure in between dialysis sessions — a common complication in kidney disease. It will also boost your energy levels and help maintain blood protein levels.

Watch out for foods high in phosphorous like milk and yoghurt. Limit your intake of these to about half a cup a day. Low phosphorous foods include cream cheese, butter and tub margarine.