Proper nutrition is essential for people who are on dialysis. It is a very important factor contributing to their good quality of life and health. Even though there are some basic dietary principles that apply to all dialysis patients, each diet should be individualized depending on the age, co-morbidities, and physical activity of each patient.
Basic diet rules
1. Balanced fluid intake
It depends on residual diuresis. As a rule, fluid intake is restricted and received from the water contained in food. In order to combat thirst, salt intake is recommended. Excessive fluid intake can lead to pulmonary edema.
2. Limited intake of potassium-rich foods
Potassium-rich foods are fruits and vegetables. Their consumption should be limited. It is also necessary to properly prepare them before eating them.
- Chop the fruits and vegetables into small pieces before consuming them.
- Peel fruits and vegetables such as: potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, apples, pears.
- Leave the vegetables in plenty of water for at least two hours before cooking. Then rinse them, boil for five minutes in a lot of water, and drain. Refresh the water and continue cooking normally.
Excessive intake of potassium may cause hyperkalemia and dangerous arrhythmias.
3. Limited phosphorus intake
Foods rich in phosphorus are: dairy, legumes, and cereals. Phosphorus, due to its reduced excretion by the kidneys in kidney disease, when in excess in the kidney patient’s body, it can accumulate and cause hyperparathyroidism with skeletal and extraskeletal lesions. These can damage the patient on the long-term, affecting their quality of life and increasing mortality.
The energy needs of kidney patients largely depend on their physical activity, but the caloric content of food consumed by dialysis patients should be sufficient to prevent catabolism (muscle tissue breakdown).
Since every person is unique, their diet should also be personalized and adapted accordingly, taking into account the patient’s socioeconomic status as well.