7 Nutrition Tips for Dialysis Patients


Kidney Health Support

When you need dialysis treatments to do the work your kidneys can’t, the hemodialysis machine can make a huge difference. But it doesn’t do all the work. If you want to protect your health when you’re on dialysis, managing your diet can make a big difference.Here’s a few nutrition tips for dialysis patients:

1. Pay attention to calories

Chances are pretty good, you may not be eating enough. Why? People with kidney disease or renal disease don’t always feel hungry. And sometimes their tastes change, making food unappetizing. But if you’re not eating enough calories, you could feel tired and fatigued, and lose too much weight. Every MagicKitchen meal includes calories per serving on the package.

2. Eat a moderate amount of protein

You need protein to support your bones, muscles, skin, organs, and other functions. Protein helps support healing and fights disease, too. Research suggests eating a moderate amount of protein is best for people on dialysis. Good protein sources can include fish, poultry, lean beef, and legumes.

3. Avoid or limit unhealthy fats

There’s good fat (avocados, olive oil, nuts). And there’s bad fat (french fries, processed pastries, margarine).When you’re on dialysis, your risk for heart disease and stroke goes up. Eating bad fats can clog your arteries and increase your risk. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Eating healthy fats and avoiding bad fats can make a difference.

4. Limit sodium to 1,500 mg per day

How much sodium is safe to eat on dialysis? Health experts recommend eating less than 1,500 mg of sodium per day. Why? Too much sodium causes the body to retain water, and that’s a problem when your kidneys can’t remove excess fluids. 

Eating more fresh, unprocessed, and whole foods makes it a lot easier to limit sodium, compared to eating fast food, burgers and pizza high in sodium.

5. Balance potassium with whole foods

Sometimes managing your diet on dialysis is a bit of a balancing act. You need potassium to support your heart and muscles. But too much potassium or too little, can lead to problems.

 When you get a blood test, ask your doctor about your potassium levels. Foods high in potassium include oranges, apricots, and cooked spinach. Foods lower in potassium include apples, pineapple, and cabbage.

6. Limit phosphorus

 When your kidneys can’t regulate phosphorus, you rely on dialysis to get the job done. If phosphorus levels get too high, it can deplete calcium levels, weaken bones, and even make the skin itch. Here’s another tip on nutrition for dialysis patients. Avoid or limit phosphorus found in foods like dairy products, processed meats, soda, and egg yolks.

7. Limit fluids

Here’s one more nutrition tip for people on dialysis. Limit fluids. Why? Without working kidneys, your body can’t remove excess fluid. You’ll need regular dialysis treatments to eliminate excess fluid. But if you drink too much, you could develop swelling that can be dangerous and painful.