Kidney disease, aka renal failure, is a very serious condition that affects millions of Americans. The kidneys prevent harmful waste from entering the body, produce hormones and regulate water/hydration, so when the kidneys fail to do their job, it introduces a whole host of health concerns and, if left untreated, ultimately result in death.
While there are two main options for treatment -- dialysis and organ transplantation -- these alone won't fully restore kidney function. The patient needs to take a proactive role in their own health because it's imperative to make lifestyle changes; the most crucial of which includes dietary adjustments. Kidney patients often find that retaining kidney health has much in common with retaining overall health, with a few differences to keep in mind -- the differences between dialysis and transplantation dietary restrictions. Generally speaking, the doctor will recommend a renal dietitian to plan a long-term, personalized regimen, but here we'll go over the basics of what to expect.
Foods To Eat on Dialysis | Dialysis Dietary Recommendations
When a patient receives dialysis treatment for renal failure, it's important for them to avoid foods high in salt, potassium and phosphorus while eating more foods rich in high-quality protein.
What are Dietary Recommendations After Kidney Transplantation?
Post-transplant kidney diets have a few goals: to promote overall health and wellness, to maintain a healthy weight and to avoid interference with prescribed medicine. Generally speaking, patients spend quite some time on dialysis before they ever receive a kidney transplant, so by then the dialysis diet should be fairly routine. The doctor will inevitably prescribe immunosuppressant drugs after the surgery to make sure your body doesn't reject your new organ. This means that most of your new dietary restrictions will revolve around these medications.
For example, grapefruit is a big no-no for post-transplant patients because it renders immunosuppressants completely ineffective. While transplantation diets are typically planned for each individual patient, taking a variety of factors into account, there are a few generalities that apply to the vast majority of kidney transplant patients:
What is the DASH Diet?
The most commonly agreed upon and advocated diet when it comes to maintaining good health is the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. It's been endorsed by the National Kidney Foundation, the American Heart Association, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The diet is a renowned treatment because it slows the progression of heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, cancer and hypertension. According to their website:
"The DASH diet eating plan is a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, low fat or nonfat dairy. It also includes mostly whole grains; lean meats, fish and poultry; nuts and beans. It is high fiber and low to moderate in fat. It is a plan that follows US guidelines for sodium content, along with vitamins and minerals."
When everything is said and done, diet and regular exercise play the largest roles in personal health at all times, not just during and after kidney disease treatment. Start getting used to checking the labels while shopping at the grocery store. Go for a walk or light jog every day. Maintaining a healthy weight, eating fruits and veggies, and getting regular exercise will go a long way to avoiding kidney failure in the first place. But if you feel that you or a loved one are at risk of kidney disease, schedule a consultation today to get help and take steps to living a healthy life.