A hemodialysis diet is typically followed by those living with end-stage renal disease. The hemodialysis diet is designed to reduce the amount of waste that enters the blood stream and filters through the kidneys. Following a hemodialysis diet may allow dialysis patients to improve their health and lifestyle between treatments. The specific diet may vary depending on individual needs, but it typically includes high amounts of protein and reduced amounts of phosphorus, potassium and fluids.
Increasing protein intake is an essential component to following a hemodialysis diet. High-quality, lean proteins are generally healthier and create less waste build-up in the blood stream. Protein will also build muscle, repair tissues and provide a greater resistance to infection.
One of the best ways to add lean protein to the diet is to include regular servings of fish, eggs and chicken. For vegetarian patients, soy products and canned beans are also suitable protein sources. Milk and cheese should be limited as they tend to be high in phosphorus.
Phosphorus is a mineral found in many foods, but it should generally be avoided by dialysis patients as the kidneys are unable to naturally reduce phosphorus levels. Excessive levels of phosphorus may deplete calcium levels in the body, which can result in bone weakness and loss. Some foods to avoid include sodas, dairy products, whole grains, dried beans and nuts. A phosphate binder, such as calcium carbonate or aluminum hydroxide, may also be taken to control phosphorus levels between dialysis treatments.
Failed kidneys are also unable to properly regulate potassium levels in the blood. It is especially important for those on hemodialysis diets to regulate potassium levels. Excessive potassium levels are extremely dangerous to the health and function of the heart. To reduce potassium levels, certain foods should be avoided, including avocados, bananas, oranges and melons. Spinach, beets, clams and yogurt also are best left out of the diet. Potatoes may be consumed but they should be boiled first to remove excess amounts of potassium.
Fluids also may need to be reduced on hemodialysis diet, including foods that contain high amounts of water. A diet that includes too much liquid can cause uncomfortable swelling and blood pressure levels. Avoiding foods that are high in sodium is one way to control thirst and reduce fluid intake. Ice cream, Jell-O and soup should generally be avoided, as they are mostly made of liquid. Certain fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, grapes, lettuce and celery, may also cause water retention due to their high water content.