Dialysis & Nutrition

Why is Nutrition So Important During Dialysis?

When you are on dialysis, your protein and calorie needs are higher. In fact, dialysis patients need about 50% more protein than normal. Even if you follow your dialysis diet very carefully, you may still have a hard time getting vital nutrition through food and dietary supplements alone. Furthermore, during dialysis you may experience poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. This can lead to low protein levels, malnutrition, and/or weight loss. As a result, you may not feel your best and have difficulty tending to your daily activities.

What Is Protein? And What Does It Do for You?

Protein is very important for building up strength, keeping you healthy and feeling your best! Protein repairs, builds and keeps your muscles strong. It is essential for tissue repair and wound healing as well as protecting against infections. Getting enough protein each day can help keep you from feeling sick or weak and even help prevent further problems that could lead to hospitalization.

An Important Protein During Dialysis: Albumin

Albumin is a type of protein made by your liver from the protein you eat every day. Your albumin level helps your doctor and dietitian determine your health and nutritional needs.

Albumin provides your body with the protein it needs to help build muscle, repair tissue and fight infection. During dialysis, albumin in your blood can also help pull excess fluid, which you can gain between your dialysis treatments, from your tissues, into the blood, where it can be removed by the dialyzer (dialysis) machine. Therefore, it is important that you eat protein every day to stay healthy!

Builds Muscles
Repairs Tissues
Fights Infections

An Important Blood Test During Dialysis: Your Albumin Levels

The amount of protein or albumin in your blood is measured by your doctor in your monthly lab work. Having an albumin level of 4.0 g/dL or greater is your goal for optimal health. When your albumin level is below 4.0 g/dL, your doctor or dietitian will encourage you to eat more protein-rich foods and increase your calories.

Where Do You Find Protein?

The best sources of protein are in the foods listed below:

  • Beef
  • Fish
  • Meatballs
  • Meatloaf
  • Pork chops
  • Pork roast
  • Turkey
  • Duck
  • Lamb
  • Lamb chops
  • Hamburger
  • Goose
  • Salmon
  • Cottage cheese
  • Egg salad
  • Eggs or egg substitute
  • Tuna steaks or tuna salad
  • Chicken or chicken salad
  • Tofu or meat substitutes
  • Veal or veal chops
  • Shellfish: crab or shrimp
  • Scallops, clams
  • High-protein powders, bars, or nutritional drinks

What If You Need More Protein Than Diet or Supplements Can Provide?

Dialysis patients have higher nutritional needs, especially when it comes to protein. As you may know, some dialysis patients don’t have an appetite, or it can be difficult to tolerate or afford oral nutritional supplements.

Two types of added nutrition, given during dialysis, can provide significant amounts of needed protein without having to drink or eat more. Both called Proplete®, these are:

See if Proplete® might be right for you: