(Disclaimer: The information provided here is only indicative. Please check with your doctor or dietician for individual “best practices”. There is no single “kidney diet” and food & diet restrictions are based on an individual’s medical history as well as their current health status.)
When kidney function is impaired or lost completely, the immediate impact felt on the body is the accumulation of excess fluids and toxins in the body. This condition is called ‘uraemia’. This can manifest in many ways:
Dialysis is performed to remove the excess fluid and toxins from the body. The kidneys function twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. Dialysis, which replaces only a part of the function of the kidneys is typically performed only thrice a week for four hours each time. Patients in several countries reduce this further due to financial constraints and patients get dialysis twice and sometimes even, once a week.
Due to this compromised removal of fluid and toxins, there is a build-up in the body. Apart from the unpleasant feeling, this excess fluid and toxin build-up is bad for the body. Dialysis patients need to therefore, restrict their fluid intake and the food they eat in order to keep this unhealthy build-up of fluid and toxins to a minimum.
Dialysis patients are advised to watch out for the following three categories of food in their diet:
As it is evident, dialysis patients need to be very careful about what they eat and drink. Even a simple social meeting like going out with a friend for coffee becomes quite a task. Several foods are restricted by simply being on dialysis. In addition, many patients have other co-morbidities. Each condition is at times, accompanied by its own set of diet restrictions. Diabetics must control their intake of sugar, for instance.
aHUS patients without access to Eculizumab have to remain on dialysis for years together. This extended period on dialysis increases the frustration associated with the restrictions on fluid intake and diet. Several people become depressed due to cravings for certain restricted foods. This increases the overall burden of the disease and Quality of Life.
This article is the second in the aHUS Alliance series, Dialysis Diaries. Author Kamal D Shah has been on dialysis for the last 22 years. He is founder of Atypical HUS India, and co-founder of NephroPlus Dialysis Centres, India’s largest Dialysis Centre Network. He is one of the directors of aHUS Alliance Global Action, whose most recent collaboration includes the KDIGO publication on Increasing Access to Integrated ESKD Care. Click HERE to read the aHUS Alliance interview with Kamal D Shah. Click HERE to read his blog.