Dialysis - Can I Eat Whole Grains? The Answer Might Surprise You


When you’re on dialysis, there are a few rules to follow to keep your diet in check. Limit the amount of food you eat that contains sodium, potassium, and phosphorus. 

But not all phosphorus is created equal. It’s found in plant-based foods, animal products, and processed foods with certain additives. However, new research shows that your body absorbs phosphorus differently, depending on the type of food it’s found in.

Here’s how the body absorbs phosphorus:

  • Less than 50% absorbed from plant-based foods, including whole grains
  • Approximately 70% absorbed from animal foods
  • About 100% absorbed from processed foods with additives.

It’s a game-changer for dialysis patients. It’s OK to include some whole grains in your diet; foods like steel-cut oats, whole-grain bread, brown rice or whole-grain cereal.. It’s animal foods and processed foods you want to limit or avoid.

So how do you tell which processed foods to avoid? Read the food label and list of ingredients. If the food contains any of these additives, avoid it. Common food additives that cause the body to absorb about 100% of phosphorus include:

  • Phosphoric Acid
  • Sodium Polyphosphate
  • Pyrophosphates
  • Sodium Trypolyphosphate
  • Tricalcium Phosphate
  • Hexametaphosphate

Just remember that not all food labels list every ingredient, and there are other additives that can increase phosphorus absorption. It’s a good reason to avoid or limit processed foods.

Can you eat whole grains when you’re on dialysis? The answer is yes.

Go enjoy a bowl of oatmeal, steel-cut oats, or a slice of whole grain bread. And if you’re hungry for more Dialysis-Friendly food, check out our complete menu of 20-plus delicious meals made from fresh ingredients perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

If you’re unsure about eating whole grains when you’re on dialysis, talk to your doctor or dietitian.