How Seniors Can Eat Right While Undergoing Dialysis Treatment

Establishing a healthy diet for a senior undergoing dialysis is successful to ensure kidney health and avoid further deterioration of kidneys and other organs. Dialysis can put stress on the body and sometimes even depletes essential nutrients, further underlining the necessity of proper nutritional intake. Here is what you need to ensure you're eating right while receiving dialysis treatment:

The Basics

Many seniors with compromised kidney health must undergo dialysis treatment, but you cannot rely entirely on dialysis to keep you healthy. Dialysis must be performed in conjunction with a tightly regulated diet. You will need to ensure you follow this diet for as long as you're undergoing dialysis for your kidneys.

The diet will not cure you, but should help you feel your best and help you avoid further damage to your kidneys throughout your treatment.

Adequate Protein Consumption

Dialysis is known to strip your body of protein, which means you need to be taking in the right amount of high quality protein. You should be taking in at least 10 ounces of protein a day, and it should consist of good sources such as beef, chicken, venison, eggs, pork, or fish.

While other foods have high amounts of protein, such as peanut butter, beans, peas, and nuts, these foods are also high in phosphorous and potassium, and should be avoided when possible.

Limiting Phosphorous

It's important that you limit the amount of phosphorous in your diet if you're undergoing dialysis. Kidneys with compromised function have difficulty processing phosphorous, and can lead to further complications such as brittle bones, calcium deposits in your organs, and itching.

Although nearly all foods have phosphorous, foods such as dairy, certain sodas like cola, nuts, and whole grains are known to be especially high in phosphorous. That's why it's recommended that you take a phosphorous binder with many of your meals, as this can help neutralize phosphorous in your gut.

Limit Potassium

Potassium is also problematic for those receiving dialysis. Potassium build-up can lead to fatigue, muscle cramping, heart arrhythmia and even potentially deadly heart attacks. The American Kidney Foundation's current recommendation is for only 2,000 to 3,000 mg of potassium per day for those undergoing dialysis.

Foods such as fruit, vegetables and certain dairy products are known to have higher levels of potassium, but certain fruits and vegetables have more than others. Veggies like beets and spinach and fruits like bananas and figs should be entirely avoided if possible. Meat, chicken, butter, bread and pasta are all known to be free of potassium.

Build a Smart diet

As you can see, certain foods like whole grain bread might be fine regarding potassium but become an issue regarding phosphorous. That's why it's important to eat in moderation and review your dietary plan with your doctor or senior care staff to ascertain whether your diet is working for you.

It's also a good idea to build a list of foods that satisfy your cravings but don't interfere with your kidney function. If you like cheese, think about eating cottage cheese or small amounts of Parmesan cheese, which are safe alternatives. Instead of ice cream, think about sorbet or fruit popsicle sticks. Build a plan in advance around safe foods and you'll be prepared to deal with the cravings as they come.

Ultimately, your dialysis diet is designed to keep you healthy throughout your treatment. By following this strict diet, you'll likely feel better and handle dialysis far better than with a poorly planned diet.