Patients diagnosed with kidney failure will be directed by their nephrologists to go in for dialysis treatment. Dialysis treatment involves the cleaning of the patient’s blood outside the body to make up for the lost kidney functions, and this is performed by a machine in the case of in-center hemodialysis or by regular fluid exchanges in peritoneal dialysis which is usually performed by the patient at home. Patients on both types of dialysis will be required to follow a strict diet that is high in protein and low in salt, potassium and phosphorus. Patients on hemodialysis will especially be required to strictly limit the intake of salt, potassium and phosphorus-rich foods and limit their fluid intake to prevent waste build-up in their blood, because they do not undergo dialysis on a daily basis and this waste build-up might damage their kidneys further. Here are foods that every dialysis patient should avoid.
Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt contain high levels of potassium that can cause problems to muscle and heart health. These products are also rich in phosphorus which weakens bones. Therefore, it is very important to limit the intake of dairy products. Most nephrologists and renal dietitians recommend that dialysis patients limit their dairy intake to ½ cup of milk or ½ cup of yogurt or 1 ounce of cheese per day.
Whole Grain Foods
Whole grain foods include whole wheat bread, bran cereal, oatmeal and brown rice. All these foods have been found to contain high levels of phosphorus and potassium, and are therefore detrimental to the health of dialysis patients, and should be avoided completely.
Sodium levels can become elevated in the body when the kidneys are not functioning properly and lead to fluid retention in between dialysis sessions. Fluid retention causes difficulty in breathing and swelling in the face, hands and legs. Therefore, sodium intake should be restricted in dialysis patients, and they should completely avoid canned foods which are very high in sodium.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds and their derivatives including dried peas, beans and lentils and peanut butter are found to contain dangerous levels of potassium and phosphorus, for example, 1 ounce of cashews, i.e., approximately 18 cashews has 187mg of potassium and 150mg of phosphorus, so these potassium and phosphorus-rich foods should be avoided by dialysis patients at all costs. Renal dietitians can help patients find suitable alternatives for these foods.
Fruits are always considered healthy, but dialysis patients should keep an eye out for fruits rich in potassium, such as bananas, kiwis, and avocados and try and limit or completely avoid their intake. Other fruits that dialysis patients should avoid include oranges and dried fruits such as dates and figs.
Salty meats include bacon, ham, sausage, hot dogs, canned meats and bologna which are high in sodium. Your renal dietitian may help in providing the recipes for these foods with a limit on sodium.
Foods with Phosphate Additives
These foods include deli meats, baked goods and soda. Phosphate derivatives such as sodium phosphate are used in processed foods to extend their shelf life, and dialysis patients or their care-givers should read the nutrition labels of all packed foods they purchase at stores and carefully look for anything that has “phos” attached to it in the ingredients list.
Liquids High in Potassium and Phosphorus
Colas and pepper-type sodas, beer, hot chocolate, sports drinks and tea are very high in potassium and phosphorus and should be avoided or taken in small amounts.
With all these diet restrictions in mind, you have to consult your healthcare provider, in case:
- You gain or lose weight very quickly.
- You have shortness of breath.
- You feel weak or tired.
- You have concerns about your renal diet.