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Dialysis and a Healthy Diet

By HERWriter
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When your kidneys can no longer do their job, hemodialysis can do the job for them. The blood is filtered a little at a time, removing wastes, extra salt and excess fluid. This helps keep blood pressure under control, and regulates the content of the blood.

You can help your treatment work for you, through careful attention to your diet.

The diet needed for a dialysis patient is unique. A renal (kidney) dietitian at the dialysis center can help you with this.

Too much of the mineral potassium affects heart rate. To keep the proper amount of potassium in your blood, limit or avoid avocados, bananas, kiwis, melons, nectarines, oranges, potatoes, prunes, tomatoes or dried fruit, pumpkin, winter squash, asparagus, beets, spinach, parsnips and rutabagas.

Too much phosphorus weakens bones by leaching out calcium, and makes your skin itch. Avoid bran cereals, brown rice, dried beans, chocolate, colas, lentils, nuts, milk and cheese, organ meats, salmon and sardines, peas and peanut butter.

Acceptable dairy foods low in phosphorus are butter, cream cheese, heavy cream, ricotta and brie.

Sodium should be monitored carefully. This applies also to sodium in processed foods. High blood pressure and congestive heart failure can result from too much salt, because it increases your thirst.

Drinking more liquids can cause weight gain and swelling, and overwork your heart to move the extra fluids through your body. Avoid salt substitutes as they contain potassium. Use spices instead of salt.

Hemodialysis will remove wastes from your blood, but wastes can build up between sessions. Being careful about what you eat and drink can cut down the amount of wastes in your blood and prevent it from making you ill.

It's vitally important that you eat as much high-quality protein as possible, like eggs, fish, red meat and poultry. These higher quality sources will produce less urea (a waste product) and keep your muscles and tissues in good repair. You will be less susceptible to infection and will recover faster from any surgery.

If you need to gain weight, healthy fats and oils will help you do this.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.