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Your diet and drinking habits are incredibly important as a dialysis patient - you should adapt them compared to your time before dialysis. They influence your well-being during dialysis and in your everyday life.
Here's what you need to know
Das solltest du wissen
Ecco cosa c'è da sapere
Voici ce qu'il faut savoir
Esto es lo que debe saber
  • Since dialysis cannot replace the complete function of the kidneys, it is very important to adjust your diet accordingly

  • While you should reduce potassium, phosphate and sodium, it is important to still eat enough calories and protein

  • It is best for you to follow a diet that is customized to both your blood levels and your dietary preferences with the help of a professional nutritionist

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Which values are important and why?

Did you know that as a dialysis patient, a good, dialysis-friendly diet is as important as the therapy itself? When your kidneys were still working perfectly, they were responsible for many tasks in your body. Due to kidney disease, they can no longer do this, which is why you are dependent on renal replacement therapy. In order to still live as healthy as possible and without problems in your daily life, it is extremely important that you adapt your diet and drinking habits to your life with dialysis as good as possible.

With a diet that is optimized for you, you can live very healthily and without problems for a long time with a few food restrictions. On the other hand, an incorrect diet as a dialysis patient can unfortunately lead to a variety of problems. These often put a strain on your cardiovascular system and can be very dangerous.

To be a bit more precise, you should pay special attention to protein, potassium, phosphate, and calories in your diet. Depending on the residual excretion, it is also important to drink as little as possible. The latter, as you probably already know, is mainly controlled by your weight fluctuations.

Protein - the basic building block

An optimal protein intake is important in order not to deplete the body's energy reserves. Proteins are the building materials of our body. Among other things, we need them to build and maintain muscles, for immune defence and as a key component of your blood. Protein is found in animal and plant foods. Since proteins are lost during dialysis, the daily protein requirement of dialysis patients is increased by about 40% compared to people who do not require dialysis.

Potassium - the high flyer

Among other things, potassium is responsible for the functioning of your muscles in your body. Nearly 99% of potassium is in your body's cells, only 1% in your blood. If you have working kidneys, they are the main controller of the level of potassium in your body. If your blood potassium levels are as high as a person with renal failure, it's important to make sure you're taking in less potassium through your diet. Potassium is in all foods - some have less and some have more.

While potassium can be reduced during dialysis, it increases very quickly during dialysis-free intervals. Also note that you should only eat a low-potassium diet if your blood potassium is actually too high. Too little potassium in the body is not good either.

Phosphate - the slow mammoth

While potassium fluctuates very quickly, phosphate levels in your body change rather slowly. Your phosphate balance is also regulated by the kidneys, when they are working. While it helps a bit, the usual dialysis duration, unfortunately, cannot adequately reduce the phosphate in your blood. You should therefore avoid foods with a high phosphate content as much as possible. In addition, you can often support your diet with phosphate binders. These medications bind phosphate in the intestines, so that it is directly excreted again. Make sure you take the phosphate binders correctly, as this is the only way they are effective. You should also pay special attention to processed products, as many additives contain a concentrated dose of phosphate.

Salt (=sodium) - the blood pressure regulator

Among other places, sodium is found in your cells. One of its jobs is to evenly distribute water throughout your body. Too much sodium in your body makes you thirsty and increases your body's blood pressure. While you can target and remove sodium through dialysis, a low-salt diet is still very important for people with kidney disease. It lowers blood pressure, ensures that blood pressure lowering medications work better, and most importantly, reduces your thirst.

Calories (=energy)

Despite the limitations of phosphate, potassium and salt, an adequate energy intake is indispensable. It is the basis for maintaining all bodily functions (e.g. heartbeat, breathing, circulation, etc.). If you notice that you have no appetite and therefore eat insufficiently over a longer period of time, you should definitely contact your doctor.

A personalised diet is the best way to go

There is no dialysis diet that applies equally to all patients. The state of health is a decisive factor in the optimal adaptation and must be taken into account. Support from a qualified nutritionist is therefore important.

Even if there are / will be changes to your eating and drinking habits before dialysis, you should remember: there are (almost) no restrictions. In many cases, it is sufficient to reduce the amount of food with disadvantageous ingredients or to switch to other similar products.

In addition, you will find a lot of general advice in the Mizu app that will hopefully help you in everyday life, such as the extensive search function, cooking recipes, testimonials from patients, a food diary and much more.

Medically reviewed by:
Medizinisch überprüft durch:
Verificato dal punto di vista medico da:
Médicalement vérifié par :
Médicamente comprobado por:
Dr. Diego Parada Rodriguez (en)
Specialist in training for Nephrology
  • Ikizler TA, Burrowes JD, Byham-Gray LD, Campbell KL, Carrero JJ, Chan W, Fouque D, Friedman AN, Ghaddar S, Goldstein-Fuchs DJ, Kaysen GA, Kopple JD, Teta D, Yee-Moon Wang A, Cuppari L. KDOQI Clinical Practice Guideline for Nutrition in CKD: 2020 Update. Am J Kidney Dis. 2020 Sep;76(3 Suppl 1):S1-S107.
  • Rodriguez NR. Introduction to Protein Summit 2.0: continued exploration of the impact of high-quality protein on optimal health. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Jun;101(6):1317S-1319S.
  • Wolfson M. Management of protein and energy intake in dialysis patients. J Am Soc Nephrol. 1999 Oct;10(10):2244-7.
  • Clase CM, Carrero JJ, Ellison DH, Grams ME, Hemmelgarn BR, Jardine MJ, Kovesdy CP, Kline GA, Lindner G, Obrador GT, Palmer BF, Cheung M, Wheeler DC, Winkelmayer WC, Pecoits-Filho R; Conference Participants. Potassium homeostasis and management of dyskalemia in kidney diseases: conclusions from a Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes (KDIGO) Controversies Conference. Kidney Int. 2020 Jan;97(1):42-61.
  • Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes (KDIGO) CKD-MBD Update Work Group. KDIGO 2017 Clinical Practice Guideline Update for the Diagnosis, Evaluation, Prevention, and Treatment of Chronic Kidney Disease-Mineral and Bone Disorder (CKD-MBD). Kidney Int Suppl (2011). 2017 Jul;7(1):1-59.
  • Kalantar-Zadeh K, Fouque D. Nutritional Management of Chronic Kidney Disease. N Engl J Med. 2017 Nov 2;377(18):1765-1776.
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