Since kidneys regulate water and minerals in our body, as well as remove waste, dialysis is needed to complete this process in individuals who have impaired kidney function. People on dialysis require specific nutritional considerations, including increased protein, and limiting their sodium intake.
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Add Protein to Each Meal
People with dialysis require increased protein to help maintain protein levels in the blood and to improve overall health. Individuals on dialysis should consume eight to 10 ounces of high-protein foods every day, according to the National Kidney Foundation. One ounce of protein is equivalent to one egg, 1/4 cup of tuna, 1/4 quarter cup of ricotta cheese, or one slice of low-sodium lunch meat. Examples of three ounces of protein include a medium pork chop, 1/4 pound of hamburger patty, one-half chicken breast and one medium fish fillet. You can meet this protein requirement by adding a 3-ounce serving of protein at breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.
Choose Foods Low in Phosphorus
People on dialysis should steer clear of whole grains and high-fiber foods such as whole-wheat bread, bran cereal and brown rice, because they are high in phosphorus. When an excess amount of phosphorus exists in the blood, it depletes calcium from the bones. Good carbohydrate sources for dialysis patients include one slice of white bread, 1/2 of a hamburger bun, 1/2 cup of cooked white rice, 1 cup of cold cereal, four unsalted crackers and 1 and 1/2 cups of unsalted popcorn, according to the National Kidney Foundation. Dialysis patients can have six to 11 servings of grains or cereals per day. In addition to whole grains, dairy foods -- such as milk, yogurt and cheese -- are also high in phosphorus, and should be eaten in moderation, if on dialysis. It is important to limit dairy intake to 1/2 cup of milk, 1/2 cup of yogurt or 1 ounce of cheese per day.
Sample Easy Meals
A sample lunch for people on dialysis includes a tuna salad sandwich made with 3 ounces of tuna on a hard roll with lettuce and mayonnaise, 1/2 cup of coleslaw, one serving of low-sodium pretzels, 1/2 cup of canned, drained peaches and 1 ginger ale, according to the National Kidney Foundation. Dinner can be as simple as one hamburger patty on a 4-ounce bun, with one to two teaspoons of ketchup, 1 cup of salad made with lettuce, cucumber, radishes, peppers, with olive oil and vinegar dressing and 1 cup of lemonade, according to the National Kidney Foundation. For breakfast, try 1/2 cup of cranberry juice or apple juice, two eggs, two pieces of white toast and a 6-ounce cup of coffee.
Avoid These Foods
People on dialysis should avoid foods high in potassium, because when potassium builds up in the blood, it can cause weakness, muscle cramps, tiredness, irregular heartbeat and even a heart attack. Foods high in potassium include collard greens, carrots, beets, potatoes, tomatoes, yams, bananas, oranges, avocados, cantaloupe and pears. Dialysis patients should also avoid foods high in sodium, which includes bacon, beef jerky, canned meats, cured or smoked meat, biscuits, noodles in boxed mixes, baked beans, pickles, canned soup or broth and packaged snack foods such as crackers and chips. Limiting sodium helps reduce fluid buildup and can help with high-blood pressure. For a specific, individualized diet plan, consult a Registered Dietitian.