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Renal Dialysis

Renal Dialysis > Diet & Nutrition

Diet & Nutrition

Good nutrition is important in helping you to feel your best. Your doctor will prescribe a diet for you that contains the proper amounts of protein, sodium, potassium, phosphorous and fluid. If you have any other diet needs (such as diabetes or heart disease) these will also be included.


Although the diet may seem strict, a dietitian can be there for you and can even show you how safely to work some of your favorite foods into your diet. Remember that proper diet will help you feel your best and will help you to have more comfortable dialysis treatments.

Diet and Dialysis - Some Important Words to Know


Your body needs protein for growth, building muscle, fighting infection and healing cuts and wounds. During each dialysis treatment your body loses some protein.

You will need to eat more high quality protein foods to replace these losses. High quality proteins are meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy products. *Check with your doctor or dietitian before eating large amounts of dairy products because they are high in phosphorous.


A mineral that is found in all foods, but is especially high in milk, cheese, nuts, dried beans, peas and cola. Eating too much phosphorous will raise your blood phosphorous level and can lead to severe itching, bone pain, weak or broken bones, as well as calcium build-up on heart valves.


Also a mineral found naturally in foods, potassium is removed by dialysis. However, eating too much potassium will cause a high blood potassium level between treatments. Too much potassium causes muscle weakness, especially in your heart, and may cause the heart to beat irregularly.

At higher levels, potassium can cause the heart to stop beating. It is found in large amounts in salt substitutes, bananas, melons, strawberries, potatoes, tomatoes, citrus fruits, dark greens, broccoli, pumpkin, avocado, papaya and chocolate.


Sodium is a mineral found in large amounts in table salt and prepared/convenience foods. Eating too much sodium causes high blood pressure and will also make you thirsty causing you to drink more fluid than you should.

Extra fluid will make your heart work harder and can cause heart failure. Reminder: Salt substitutes are high in potassium. Check with your doctor or dietitian before using.


Anything that is liquid at room temperature. Fluid includes coffee, tea, milk, soda, water, ice, broth, soup, Jell-O, ice pops, sherbet, Italian ice, ice cream, pudding, and juice. Too much fluid in your body can mean trouble! (Shortness of breath, strain on the heart, uncomfortable swelling in the hands, legs and abdomen.)

Hemodialysis patients generally can safely drink one quart daily plus the amount of their 24-hour urine output. Patients who do not make any urine need to keep their fluid intake to one quart daily. One quart is equal to 32 ounces.

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