Dialysis is a process in which blood or other fluids in the body are externally cleaned before returned to the body with the purpose of helping the kidneys in the removal of excess toxins. Eating correctly is probably one of the best things a patient can do to help their dialysis treatment, especially those that do not have daily sessions with the machine, so they should be much more careful with what they eat. Patients with kidney failure must carefully monitor their intake of phosphorus, potassium, sodium and fluid levels in general. While a proper diet should be discussed with your nutritionist and your doctor in order to identify your specific needs, there are some general guidelines of foods that contain high amount of this nutrients and how you should behave when it comes to their consumption.
Dairy products like milk, yogurt and cheese have a high content of potassium and phosphorus, substances that should be limited to patients with kidney failure. Excess potassium is known to be the source of muscle and heart problems while high quantities of phosphorous can lead to weakness of the bones. Another general issue with dairy products is that they are usually high on fat, something that can bring its own set of complications like heart disease and other serious health risks. While no food is absolutely banned while on dialysis, patients should limit their dairy intake or ask their doctors which types of dairy is not as harmful like unfortified rice milk, non dairy whipped cream, cottage cheese and other types of soft cheese that have a lower content of phosphorous when compared with their harder counterparts.
When the kidneys aren’t working properly the body doesn’t eliminate sodium they way it should so the excess stays in the body and causes it to retain fluids more than it should. Canned foods are usually high on sodium content; something that can greatly affect they already reduced kidney functions in the patient. Canned foods exist because they are practical and can conserve food for longer periods of time without perishing, but are nothing more than a substitute to fresh food that you can prepare at home without having to put your health at risk. Opt for healthier alternatives and avoid canned foods as much as as you can.
Whole grain products like whole wheat bread, brown rice or bran cereal are usually known for being healthier and giving the body more fiber, something that can aid in the digestive process. However, when it comes to patients in dialysis they can become problematic due to their high content of phosphorous. The problem with high levels of phosphorous in the absence of healthy kidneys is that creates an imbalance with calcium contents, so they body must extract calcium from the bones, thus weakening them.
Most nuts and seeds like peanuts, dried peas, beans and lentils are high on phosphorous and potassium, and therefore patients undergoing dialysis treatment should avoid them. While their protein content is considerable, they should be limited nonetheless or at least discussed with your dietitian if you consume these foods regularly.
When it comes to fruits, they are mostly healthy and people may be surprised to realize that some of them should be avoided. Examples of fruits to avoid include kiwi, bananas, and avocados because they contain high amounts of potassium. Consumption of dried fruits like raisins and dehydrated berries should also be done in moderate amounts.
Which foods should you eat?
Red bell peppers are low in potassium and full of flavor. They are high on vitamin A, C, B6, fiber and folic acid. Bell peppers can be eaten in many ways, something that makes them a great food to help you keep a more diverse diet. Eating them raw is great with a dip and you can also roast them to add to sandwiches, salads or omelets. They are also great and easy to prepare on the grill when added to kabobs.
Cabbages are also a great addition to your diet that offers many options to prepare. They can be eaten raw in coleslaw or added as a tasty topping for fish tacos. Cabbages are high in vitamin K, vitamin C and fiber, while also a good source of vitamin B6 and folic acid. Low in potassium and inexpensive, they are an affordable addition to your kidney diet.
Egg whites and fish are both great sources of protein that contain less phosphorus than most of other animal protein. They are easy to prepare and allow you to use them in many recipes so you can vary your diet and not get bored from always eating the same things.
Apples are great fruits to eat because they contain no sodium and low quantities of phosphorous. Apples can be mixed with salty foods or also eaten as a healthy dessert mixed with cottage cheese or simply raw.
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