Once you’re on dialysis, your protein needs are usually much higher than they were before you started treatment. That’s because both haemodialysis (HD) and peritoneal dialysis (PD) treatments cause your body to lose protein. Protein can also help to build and repair tissues in your body. A dialysis patient is recommended to take in 1 to 1.2g of protein per kg of body weight daily.
There are a variety of different healthy protein sources – including chicken, beans, beef, eggs, fish, turkey, tofu and many others. Choosing fresh, high-quality protein is the healthiest option. You should avoid cured and deli meats in order to limit the amount of salt you’re putting into your body.
It’s important for dialysis patients to limit their daily sodium intake to 2,000 mg or less. This is equivalent to 5g, or 1 teaspoon of salt per day. Singaporeans consume an average of 9g of salt daily, which is 60% more than the recommended daily intake. If you've chronic kidney disease (CKD), your kidneys have a hard time keeping the sodium and water in your body in balance. This can give you high blood pressure, shortness of breath, and swelling and make you thirstier.
To make sure you’re not eating too much salt, it's best to stay away from packaged, processed foods, canned or frozen foods. Be mindful of what you eat outside! Laksa, mee goreng and chicken curry noodles are examples of high salt content hawker food. Healthy, home-cooked meals flavoured with spices and herbs are a great alternative that puts you in control of how much salt goes into your body.
Phosphorus is essential for building and maintaining strong bones. When your kidneys are not functioning as well as they should though, phosphorus build-up can occur. This puts you at risk for severe bone and heart problems, like cardiovascular disease and hip fractures. Avoid food high in phosphate, such as processed food, chocolate, nuts, milk and dairy products, organ meats, dried prawns and dried fish. In fact, do you know there is a lot of phosphorus in fast foods and flavoured beverages too? Instead, go for lean meat, egg whites or low phosphorus alternatives to stay within your recommended daily phosphorus intake of 800 to 1,000 mg.
Whether you're on peritoneal dialysis (PD) or haemodialysis (HD), the amount of calcium you get from your diet should not be greater than the recommended daily allowance of 2,000 mg. Too much calcium in your body can put you at risk of vascular calcification, which are mineral deposits in your veins and arteries, and other harmful conditions.
Getting enough fibre from the foods you eat is an important part of maintaining your overall bodily health. Fibre helps your body control its blood sugar levels, keep cholesterol in check, and maintain gut health You should be consuming about 20 to 25 grams of fibre each day. This is equivalent to 2 servings of fruits and 2 servings of vegetables per day. This is easy if you eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low-phosphorus grains.
Keep in mind that every person on dialysis has specific dietary needs. You should talk to your clinician or dietician about what specific foods you should and should not eat while you’re on dialysis to make sure that you’re on the kidney-friendly diet that’s right for you.