How to Get More Protein In Your Diet as a Dialysis Patient
Individuals going through dialysis are encouraged to follow the recommendations of their doctor and dietitian regarding their diets. A stricter limit on protein intake with chronic kidney disease is usually recommended but when at end-stage renal disease and on dialysis, a higher protein intake is recommended. Dialysis treatments remove fluids and toxins from your blood but they can also remove some protein. A working kidney can be choosy as to what to filter out and what to retain. Dialysis is much less discriminatory. If your blood tests are showing low albumin, your dietitian may recommend an increase in protein intake to prevent your body from catabolizing muscle for the protein it needs. Here is how to get more quality protein in your diet when needed.
Choose the Right Protein Foods
Steak, pork chops, chicken breast and fish all hover around 25 grams of protein per about a 3 oz. serving, Greek yogurt and beans can get close to the same amount of protein. However, you have to consider how much you are adding to your phosphorus and potassium load with these protein sources.
Work with your renal dietitian and get a custom dialysis diet with higher levels of protein tailored to your needs and taste rather than using a generic printout many healthcare providers photocopy and pull out of a drawer.
Finding Low Phosphorus Food With Higher Protein
You want to limit phosphorus while still getting adequate protein, but most foods that contain high protein also have a high amount of phosphorus. Both hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis can only remove a certain amount of phosphorus buildup, so this is why limiting it is important. Also, be sure to take phosphate binders as prescribed for the best results.
Depending on what you like, you should speak to your dietitian about foods you can eat that are high in protein but have manageable levels of phosphorus. It can get confusing, but you should know how much you can have of red meats, poultry, and fish. Also, eggs are a great source of protein that are perfect for the renal diet.
It is important to keep in mind that the general positive health claims for all foods need to be reconsidered when on a dialysis or a chronic kidney disease diet. Though the foods you like may be very healthy for a person with normal kidney function, they may contain too much or too little of the specific nutrients you need while being treated for chronic kidney disease or with dialysis.
Protein Drinks, Powders and Bars
Keep in mind that these commercial food products are made for the general public who are not on a restrictive diet. If you cannot get enough protein in your normal diet to keep your albumin level up while on dialysis, ask your dietitian for some recommendations on protein supplements to try: shakes, powders, or meal bars. These products change their ingredients frequently and label reading is very important.
What you need to do is look at how much protein you are getting, but do not forget to also look at the phosphorus, potassium, and sodium in the products as well. ReGen by NutraBalance and Nepro by Abbot are made for patients on dialysis who cannot keep blood albumin levels in the normal range with their regular diet.
If you are cooking your own protein, you can control all the additives that go into your recipes. This way, you can closely monitor the amount of sodium in your protein foods as well. Be aware that some meats, such as fresh chicken breasts or fish filets may be injected with a sodium solution and / or phosphorus additives. Be sure to read the labels and ask questions.
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