The Diabetes Dialysis Diet

What is a diabetes dialysis diet?

The diabetes dialysis diet is specifically for patients who have stage 5 chronic kidney disease (CKD), also called end stage renal disease (ESRD), in addition to diabetes. The diet’s goal is to manage blood glucose levels and help you feel your best.

What can I eat?

Like the other dialysis diets, the diabetes dialysis diet is filled with nutritious foods. You will work closely with your dietitian to create a balanced eating plan that will feature high-quality proteins and the proper balance of carbohydrates and fats to meet your individual needs.

What can’t I eat?

Your diet will have restrictions regarding foods that contain high amounts of phosphorus, sodium and potassium. But because of your diabetes, your carbohydrate intake will be tightly controlled in order to manage your blood glucose levels. High-sugar foods increase blood glucose. All carbohydrate-containing foods ( e.g., bread, cereal, pasta, rice, starchy vegetables, fruits, juices, many sugar-free desserts) increase blood glucose levels. Therefore, the total amount of carbohydrates you eat will be balanced with your medicines and activity level. Your dietitian may teach you a system called carbohydrate counting to keep your carbohydrate intake balanced.

Why do I have to eat this way?

Your dietitian and doctor will advise you to eat this way to reduce the risk of other health problems associated with diabetes and kidney disease.

How does it help?

Diabetes affects your entire body. It can cause nerve damage, problems in blood circulation and blindness as well as kidney disease. By following this eating plan, you can control your blood glucose levels and lessen the likelihood of developing other diabetes-related problems.

Phosphorus isn’t cleared well through dialysis. It can build to high levels in the bloodstream and cause complications such as weak bones, heart problems, joint pain or skin ulcers. Too much or too little potassium can cause muscle weakness and heart failure. By controlling foods that contain these minerals, you lessen the risk of developing additional complications.

Sodium causes your body to hold on to more fluid and raises your blood pressure. It also makes you thirsty, causing you to drink too much . When you have too much fluid in your body, you may feel uncomfortable and short of breath. When this excess fluid is removed during dialysis, you can feel dizzy and weak afterwards. Eating less sodium and controlling your fluid intake can help you feel comfortable before and after your dialysis sessions.

Uncontrolled blood glucose level can also increase your thirst. Check your glucose and keep it controlled to help manage your thirst.

What about fluid intake?

Your dietitian will recommend a specific fluid allowance, based on your health, remaining kidney function, level of activity and the type of dialysis you choose.

How long do I have to follow the diabetes dialysis diet?

This is dependent on what your doctor and dietitian recommend.

How do I know if the diabetes dialysis diet is working?

You’ll know if the diabetes dialysis diet is working by how you feel and through lab test results. People with diabetes are instructed to monitor their own blood glucose levels through a simple test using a home blood glucose monitoring machine. If you don’t have one, ask your doctor for a prescription for a glucose monitoring machine and testing strips. You’ll be able to see if your blood glucose levels fall within an acceptable range at anytime.

Another test, called a hemoglobin A1c or A1c test, is performed by your doctor. This test measures the average blood glucose level over three months. The results can tell you how well your diabetes has been controlled. Your diet may require changes when your A1c level is too high.

In addition to controlling your diabetes, your diabetes dialysis diet is designed to help you with your kidney disease. By sticking to your fluid allowance, eating the recommended foods and watching your phosphorus, sodium and potassium intake, plus taking your prescribed medications, you will eat well and should feel better and stay healthier.

Your dietitian will monitor your health and conduct a nutrition assessment when you start on dialysis and then each year after that. This assessment will check for any signs of nutrition problems, changes in weight and energy levels plus any problems that may interfere with eating.

If I follow the diabetes dialysis diet will my kidneys get better?

No diet or treatment can reverse the damage done to the kidneys. The diabetes dialysis diet will keep you healthy by managing your blood glucose levels and lessening the chances of other complications resulting from diabetes and kidney disease.