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Hemodialysis Diet

A Hemodialysis Diet is the meal plan prescribed to patients who are in their last stage of kidney disease. These patients have very little kidney function and a Hemodialysis Diet allows the patients to reduce the waste that enters the blood and has to be removed by the kidneys.

Effects of Kidney Disease

The diet is regulated to control the amount of waste products that are dumped into blood. Normally, the kidneys are responsible for filtering blood and removing waste products to make urine. However, end stage kidney disease means that the kidneys are irreparably damaged and cannot do their job. As a result, blood has to be passed through an external artificial kidney machine called the dialysis machine that will do the work of the kidney. Patients usually have to visit a hospital to get the dialysis done. A hemodialysis diet will try to reduce the amount of nitrogen based wastes that are usually removed by the kidney.

Principles of the Hemodialysis Diet

  1. Water intake has to be restricted as the kidneys are responsible for removing excess water from the body. Any food item that is watery will contain water and this includes melons, grapes, apples, oranges etc. Fluids can build up during the dialysis sessions making the patient feel large and bloated. It can also make the heart work harder resulting in elevated blood pressure levels.
  2. For this same reason, salt intake has to be restricted to reduce thirst and water intake.
  3. Healthy kidneys maintain the right level of potassium in the body. High levels of this can affect the functioning of the heart that can even result in death. Potassium rich foods like bananas, avocados, and kiwis are contraindicated for this reason.
  4. Phosphorous based foods are an integral part of every patients diet. Too much Phosphorous can draw calcium out of bone resulting in weaker bones. Patients on dialysis are restricted to half a cup of milk products and this can affect their bone density. Phosphate binders become necessary to regulate levels of body Phosphorous.
  5. A high quality protein diet that is rich in fish and eggs is necessary to maintain body weight. Proteins break down to form urea that has to be removed by the kidney but high quality proteins produce less urea which means a lower load on the kidney.
  6. Additional vitamins and minerals are necessary to make up for the deficit in the diet.

Note: It is extremely necessary to talk to a nutritionist trained in hemodialysis and who knows the exact nutritional needs for these hemodialysis patients.