What is a Hemodialysis Diet?

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  • Written By: Simone Lawson
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 22 May 2020
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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.

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Post 3

Do you know if people ever go on diets like this for reasons other than renal insufficiency? This diet seems really similar to what my sister was on a few years ago, but I know that she didn't have any problems with her kidneys.

In fact, if I remember correctly, she just did the diet because she wanted to lose weight. So would this have ever showed up as a fad diet, or anything like that? It's a little morbid if it did, but you see so many crazy fad diets out there that it totally could have.

What do you think?

Post 2

Wow, this is really detailed! As if kidney disease weren't hard enough, then you have to follow a diet for hemodialysis.

I thankfully am pretty healthy, so I can't imagine ever going through something like this. It sounds like the diet for hemodialysis patients would just be one more thing to have to deal with when you're already feeling pretty bad.

If anybody reading this is suffering from end-stage renal disease, you really do have my sympathy. I can't imagine going through something like this, so I appreciate your courage and determination.

Post 1

Thanks for this post -- I was looking for information about hemodialysis diet restrictions for a report (thankfully not because I need them!), and this was really helpful.

Would there be any other reason besides chronic renal failure for this diet, do you know? I am also supposed to compare it to other diets that people with serious organ-related conditions might have, so I was wondering if this kind of diet applied anywhere else.

Thanks for the info, and let me know if you can. Thanks!

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