Kidney Diet Tips

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Why is potassium limited in the dialysis diet for people on hemodialysis?

avocado tomatoMost people on hemodialysis limit high potassium foods to keep blood levels from going too high. Potassium is a mineral that helps muscles and nerves work properly, and it helps regulate the heartbeat and blood pressure. In kidney failure, potassium from the diet builds up in the body. If the level goes too high the heart slows and could stop beating.

Dialysis removes potassium from the body and between treatments potassium builds up again. By following a dialysis diet which limits high potassium foods, hemodialysis patients can keep potassium in a safe range during the 2 to 3 days between their dialysis treatments.

Those with end stage renal failure on daily dialysis treatments, like peritoneal dialysis or daily hemodialysis, may not require a potassium restricted diet. Since the treatments are daily, potassium does not build up to high levels.

Information about individual potassium requirements are provided to dialysis patients by their doctors and dietitians. In addition to following a kidney-friendly meal plan, they can limit high potassium foods like banana, melon, nectarine, orange or orange juice, milk, yogurt, potato, spinach, tomato and tomato products, winter squash, nuts and seeds, dried beans and peas, avocado and chocolate.

Sara Colman, RD, CDE

Sara Colman, RD, CDE

Sara is a renal dietitian with over 20 years experience working with people with diabetes and kidney disease. She is co-author of the popular kidney cookbook "Cooking for David: A Culinary Dialysis Cookbook". Sara is currently the Manager of Kidney Care Nutrition for DaVita. She analyzes recipes and creates content, resources and tools for the kidney community. In her spare time Sara loves to spend time with her young grandson, including fun times together in her kitchen.