Food and Nutrition during Dialysis

Because What You Eat Counts, Now More Than Ever

Kidneys are truly the ‘special child’ of the entire human body. They require care, attention and patience, especially when they are struggling to do their bit. When you are on dialysis, diet becomes more important than ever. Thermaissance brings to you a special article on how you can manage your diet while on dialysis.

Renal disease is a considerable shock for your body. While dialysis does its bit in cleaning up your system, you need to take extra care of yourself when on dialysis. Balancing food and nutrition during dialysis is extremely crucial to managing your health. While you should consult a nephrologist and a dietician to chart out the right diet for you, here are a few pointers on how you can go about it.

Compensating for Protein Loss

There is a lot of tissue repair that takes place when you are on dialysis, and so patients are usually advised a high protein diet during dialysis. Remember that now that your body’s ability to eliminate waste is compromised, you must get maximum nutrition from foods that create minimum waste. In the body, protein is broken down into a waste called urea, accumulation of which can be extremely harmful. Opt for high quality proteins – fish, egg whites, and poultry – that produce the least urea. 

Limiting Salt Intake

Never before was your body’s salt balance so vulnerable. Salts of sodium, potassium and phosphorous can wreck havoc in the body if they are in excess or are in deficient. Your dietician will be able to determine the right balance of these elements in your body which should be monitored regularly. Salt accumulation can rocket your blood pressure and interfere with your dialysis treatment. Salt consumption also induces thirst and increased fluid intake, the effects of which is discussed in the next session.

Balancing Fluid Intake

Dialysis patients run the risk of accumulating excess fluids in their body. However, even though you are on dialysis, your kidneys may still be able to eliminate some fluid and this will affect your fluid intake. You will be advised drink enough fluids to keep yourself hydrated, but do not overdo it to avoid puffiness and malfunctioning of your blood and vitals. Determine the fluid level that helps you maintain optimum blood pressure and hydration levels. Adjust the quantity whenever you have excess fluid loss.

Remembers, that any food that is liquid at room temperature ahs water in it, and hence consumption of such foods add to the fluid intake of your body – melons, ice-cream, tomatoes and oranges, for example.

Preventing Fat/Cholesterol Accumulation

Without the body’s natural restorative system in place, fat or cholesterol accumulation can be dangerous. Food and nutrition during dialysis is typically light, low on fat, and the little fat that is allowed should be unprocessed, unsaturated fat.

Aim to include omega-3 fatty acids in your diet by eating fish like tuna and salmon. These will keep your heart healthy and lubricate your body without cholesterol accumulation.

Selective Dairy Intake

Some of the dairy products are high on phosphorous and hence not recommended as a part of the diet during dialysis. Strict restrictions on milk, yoghurt and cheese should be followed. Butter, sherbet and non-dairy whipped topping are low in phosphorous but the permitted servings for you should be discussed with your dietician in advance.


Since food and nutrition during dialysis is considerably restricted, you might be required to take vitamin and mineral supplements to balance you nutritional needs. Consult your dietician to understand the requirements and discuss with your nephrologist to ensure that these do not interfere with the dialysis or your overall body balance.


Depending on how dialysis affects your body, your diet may need to be adjusted to help you gain/ lose weight through more/less calories. If you need more calories, try non-salt, non-fat, natural foods such as olive oil or honey. If you are diabetic, be careful about honey or any sugary item. If you need to lose calories, you can increase you vegetable intake and reduce carbohydrates. Do not cut down on proteins too much, as they are essential for repairing your body after dialysis.