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How can I tell if I am eating the right foods if I am on hemodialysis?

If you are on hemodialysis, you have some very special dietary needs. Eating well helps you stay healthy. Eating poorly can increase your risk of illness. Your dietitian will talk with you about how well you are eating.

Some questions you might be asked:
  • Have you noticed a change in the kind or amount of food you eat each day?
  • Have you had any problems eating your usual or recommended diet?
  • Have you lost weight without trying?
  • Have you noticed any changes in your strength or ability to take care of yourself?
Your dialysis care team will monitor your labs closely to identify changes in your blood protein levels (albumin), phosphorus, and potassium. A change in albumin can mean that you are losing body protein. High or low levels of phosphorus or potassium can be dangerous.

In addition, some special blood tests that are done each month are called Kt/V or urea reduction ratio (URR). These tests help your doctor decide if you are getting enough dialysis. Getting the right amount of dialysis is important to help you feel your best.

A change in your fat and muscle stores or any of these blood tests could be a sign that you are not getting enough dialysis. Along with the Kt/V, these tests provide information about your intake of protein or your protein equivalent of nitrogen appearance (PNA). Using the PNA, your albumin and any changes in your appetite, your dietitian will determine if you are eating enough of the right foods. The right amount of dialysis is needed to make sure you are able to enjoy your food while keeping you healthy.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.