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Where can you find extra potassium in you daily diet?

Despite the fact that the heart and kidneys are physically separated by a fair distance within the body there is a close relationship between the two organs.  The production of red blood cells, blood pressure regulation, artery wall thickening, and homocysteine levels, are functions which are closely linked together and carefully regulated between the heart and the kidneys.


Keeping your body healthy requires good nutrition as well.  A nutrient dense intake is paramount to a strong physical and mental health status.  A balanced diet helps to provide for growth, builds new muscle tissue and repairs body tissue in addition to building and keeping a strong immune system.  But what happens when the kidneys are damaged and unable to get rid of enough waste products and fluids from the blood?  Your doctor may have already prescribed hemo-dialysis or peritoneal dialysis treatments for you.  This treatment requires careful attention to your food intake because the body now has special needs, and fluids and certain foods and nutrients need to be regulated.  Your diet becomes very important in your care and it is essential that you have the right amount of protein, calories, fluids, vitamins and minerals every day.  Your dietitian will work with you closely and help you plan your meals and your food intake so that you can meet these nutrient needs.


You may have already noticed that you have changes in the kind or amounts of food you eat every day or you may have problems eating your usual or recommended food intake.   Loss of weight without trying may be present or you may be having changes in your strength and the ability to take care of yourself.  These are issues you will want to discuss with your dietitian so you can both address these concerns together.


If you have high cholesterol or diabetes your dietitian can work with you on the kinds of fat and animal foods you can eat as well as altering the carbohydrate component of your food intake.  Vitamin and mineral intake will also play a role and can be reviewed together.


As you journey through the process of dialysis your dietitian will also help you in your understanding of the basics of food preparation and help provide flavoring tips to enhance palatability, help you understand recipe composition and how the cooking process alters the nutrient composition of a food, help include your special cultural and religious preferences, help with taste alterations or changes in perceptions, and help with the understanding of other medical issues and their role in your food intake.
All in all, your dietitian can help serve as a valuable member of your health care team as you journey through the process of dialysis.  Please utilize your dietitian to help you stay healthy and strong.

Ruth Davies, Staff Dietician