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7 tips for healthy eating Food and well-being

When the kidneys are no longer fully functioning, your health and well-being depend on an appropriate diet to compensate for changes in the body. Below is an overview of a healthy lifestyle for kidney patients. However, which diet is right for you depends on many factors such as your taste, the stage of your kidney failure, the treatment you are receiving and other illnesses you may have, such as diabetes.

Communicate with your healthcare team 

It will help you identify which diet or diet is best for you. Also, avoid weight variations, as dialysis treatment is a demanding process and you need to maintain your resources.

1) Drinks

Because with kidney failure the body produces less urine, it is important to be careful not to drink too much to avoid a dangerous buildup of fluids between dialysis sessions. Your healthcare team will tell you how much you can drink each day without risking complications. Some patients prefer to drink from bottles to estimate their fluid intake. Whichever method you use, be sure to control how much you drink.

2) Salt

When you have kidney disease, your body can no longer properly regulate sodium (salt) levels. Sodium promotes high blood pressure and makes you feel thirsty which would make you drink more.

  • When cooking, add very little salt. Prefer herbs or other spices.
  • Do not add salt to your dishes at the table.
  • When eating nuts or processed foods, like pizza, make sure they are low in salt – also, in general, macadamia nuts are better than other varieties of nuts.

3) Phosphate

Elevated serum phosphate levels can cause bone decalcification and long-term vascular disease. To protect the heart, blood vessels and bones, the phosphate intake should be between only 800 and 1200 mg per day. Most of the phosphate we eat is found in proteins, such as meat and milk. It is therefore important to take the phosphate binders prescribed for you. If you are planning a high phosphate intake, perhaps at an organized barbecue party, ask your doctor ahead of time how to take your phosphate binders that day.

4) Potassium

If the kidneys do not excrete enough potassium, the level of potassium in the blood increases (hyperkalaemia), especially after eating foods high in potassium. Hyperkalemia is very dangerous and can cause fatal cardiac arrhythmias. Often times, this happens without any symptoms, which makes it even more threatening. Even patients who have never had hyperkalaemia may experience an episode of this disorder. Your doctor will help you control your potassium levels. 

5) Proteins

Protein is an important nutrient for many bodily functions. As a dialysis patient, you will need an adequate intake of protein in your diet. However, most proteins are rich in phosphate. Your diet should include at least 1 g of protein / kg of body weight per day. Your healthcare team will explain to you how much and what types of protein are beneficial for you. 

6) processed foods and restaurants

Avoid processed and prepared foods as much as possible as salt is often added for taste. When consuming processed foods, check the salt or sodium levels on the ingredient label. The lower the salt or sodium level, the better. And don’t forget to keep track of the amount of salt you have already ingested since your last dialysis session. When you go to a restaurant, you can ask for the salt, phosphate and potassium levels. Usually, however, it is best to check the contents on your own using food lists.

7) Preparation

You can help your body by preparing your meals correctly. Even though some foods are high in potassium, such as potatoes and fruit, they can be eaten if prepared properly. Immerse them in water to rinse off the potassium before using them. Above all, preparing fresh food will contribute to your well-being.

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