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Home > Nutrition & Dialysis

Nutrition & Dialysis: Why Does It Matter What You Eat?

When kidneys can't remove wastes out of the body, wastes build up and act like toxins. To keep wastes from building up, you have to watch what you eat—and drink—between dialysis treatments. Learn more about the importance of protein, potassium, and phosphorus.
It's important to get the right kind of protein in your diet
When you're on dialysis, your body loses protein. To improve your nutritional well-being, it's important to eat high-protein foods so you can maintain a healthy level of protein in your body. By doing so, you can reduce your risk for complications to your health, such as infections, weakness, and fatigue.
Know your albumin level
Albumin is a type of protein in the blood. Every month at dialysis your albumin level will be tested. Albumin is a good measure of your overall nutritional well-being. Improved nutritional well-being may help increase your energy levels.
With the right levels of albumin, you lower your risk for complications like infections or hospitalization.

Protein

Your body needs protein to build muscle and lower your risk for infection. Now that you are on dialysis, you will need more high-quality proteins, such as lean meat, eggs, fish, and chicken.

Potassium

People on dialysis have kidneys that can no longer filter potassium from the blood. When potassium builds up in the blood, you can become sick. Selecting foods low in potassium can help you feel better.

Phosphorus

Phosphorus can build up in the blood when your kidneys aren't working right. Because too much phosphorus can lead to bone and heart problems, it is important to choose foods low in phosphorus.

Fluids

Fluids can build up quickly between dialysis treatments and can cause bloating and discomfort. The right amount of fluid intake can help you feel your best. Learn more about fluid management.

Calories

Make sure you are getting enough calories every day because they are important to keep your energy level up.

Blood Sugar

If you have diabetes, the carbohydrates you eat should be balanced with your medicines and activity level to keep your blood sugar under control.
Talk with your dietitian or nutritionist about your diet
To make sure you are making the most of what you eat and drink, work closely with your dietitian or nutritionist. Find out what your target albumin level should be and ask about nutritional options to help you reach that target.
Also ask your dietitian or nutritionist to help you form a daily meal plan. By including food choices that are good for a renal diet, you can work to lower wastes in your blood and feel better in between treatments.