What to eat if you have kidney disease and are on dialysis

Let’s have a look at the diet that will benefit patients with kidney disease, either with hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis. Typically, this diet is high in protein, although low in sodium, potassium, and phosphorus, and fluid intake has particular restrictions.


Image courtesy of shanelkalicharan at Flickr.com

The diet’s purpose

The dietary plan aims to keep a balance of minerals, electrolytes, and liquids in the patient. It’s important because dialysis alone will not eliminate all waste products efficiently, which may also accumulate between one treatment and the next.

So restricting fluid intake between treatments is quite important. Most patients on dialysis urinate little or nothing at all. Without any urination, excessive fluids may accumulate in the lungs, heart, and ankles.

Dialysis patients want a high-protein intake to maintain the adequate nutrients in order not to become malnourished, which often implies a poor prognosis.

Foods sources

The diet controls the consumption of phosphorus, protein, sodium, potassium and liquids. The restricted quantities of each one of these nutrients are based on the levels of calcium, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, albumin and urea measured in the bloodstream of the individual before and immediately following a dialysis treatment.

Fluids are restricted based on the weight gain and urine output of the patient between dialysis treatments.

These are some basic dietary tips for dialysis patients:


Pre-dialysis patients are often asked to limit their protein intake to be able to impede the progression of the kidney disease. This changes as the dialysis begins: the individual needs substantially more protein. People with peritoneal dialysis need even more protein because lots of it can be lost in the peritoneal liquid that is discarded.

Yet, dialysis sufferers still must limit their consumption of phosphorus, potassium and sodium, which makes getting protein quite a challenge. Also, several dialysis patients have a poor appetite, especially soon after beginning the treatment. Each dialysis center has a dietist who may explain nutritional modifications, suggest the suspensions of food and prescribe nutritional supplements as required.


Many individuals need to control the sodium in their diet, which helps maintain fluid balance in the body to prevent fluid retention and hypertension.


The daily consumption of potassium is also controlled, which helps avoid high potassium levels, a common problem for people on dialysis.


Phosphorus is also controlled in this specific diet. This element is not effectively removed by dialysis treatments. Patients need to lessen their intake of dairy products and other foods that are rich in phosphorus.

Calcium supplements which fix phosphorus in foods are usually recommended, and it’s important to take these tablets of calcium with foods. The amount of fixing that each individual should require is based on their phosphorus levels in the blood and in their consumption of meals containing phosphorus in the diet.


During renal failure, the quantity of urine that the humans produce decreases, and urine output usually ceases completely once patients have been on dialysis for more than six months. Patients with peritoneal dialysis have fewer constraints on fluid consumption and normally retain their urine output for a lengthier period.

The daily-recommended amount of liquid is based on the amount of urine produced in a day and the number of pounds gained between dialysis sessions. Other considerations are the presence or absence of congestive heart failure, the level of sodium in the dietary plan along with the current quantity of liquid retention.

Patients with peritoneal dialysis generally have fewer restrictions on potassium, salt and liquid consumption, as they have dialysis treatments every day. It necessary to individualize the consumption of these substances in these patients.

Renal Dialysis_joe cosgrove_health

Image courtesy of duncan c at Flickr.com

Additional variables

Individuals with kidney disease are more prone to heart disease and frequently must follow a low-fat diet. Daily calorie intake needs to be adequate to prevent the destruction of bodily tissue and to keep the nutritional condition of the individual at an optimal level. The weight of the patient and their proteins should be monitored consistently.

Ordinarily, nutritional supplements are required. The prerequisites for fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) are typically met in the diet. Normally, vitamin D supplements are supplied depending on the levels of phosphorus and calcium and are usually administered intravenously through dialysis therapy.

Since some great sources of these vitamins are restricted on this diet, regularly, the consumption of water-soluble vitamins is inadequate. Similarly, loss of water soluble vitamins occurs through dialysis treatments, which is why all patients should consume these nutritional supplements.

Other minerals which are also controlled are calcium and iron. Daily supplements that are advised depend on the levels of calcium in the bloodstream of patients. Calcium is also given in the solution and it’s adjusted according to the phosphorus levels in the blood. Iron supplements are prescribed based on studies that are performed every 90 days. Many dialysis patients have iron-deficiency and receive it intravenously throughout dialysis treatments.

Related content

Read Joe Cosgrove’s “Know some of the most common side effects of dialysis”


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