Healthy eating before your transplant helps you heal better and can prevent infections after your surgery. A dietitian can help you get ready for your transplant regardless of the stage of kidney failure you have – pre-dialysis, hemodialysis, or peritoneal dialysis. They can also help answer any food and nutrition questions you may have.
Here are some tips to get you started:
Maintain protein levels – Protein helps your body heal muscles and tissue. It also helps you fight infection. The amount of protein you need can change with your health and the stage of kidney disease you have. Your dietitian can help you find out how much protein you need every day and what’s right for you.
Promote heart health – Healthy eating and keeping active help keep your heart healthy. These can also help manage your blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. If your cholesterol is high, check with your dietitian about changes you can make in what you eat. They, and other members of your healthcare team, may talk to you about lifestyle and diet changes you can make to help manage your cholesterol and promote heart health before and after your surgery.
Tips for heart healthy eating include:
- a low sodium (low salt) diet – having too much sodium in your diet can help raise your blood pressure and your risk of heart disease and stroke
- manage your calcium and phosphorous levels – work with your dietitian to choose foods that will give you the right amount of these
- eat less saturated (animal) fat
- avoid hydrogenated or trans-fats – read food labels and choose foods with 0 trans-fat
You can also help to lower your triglyceride (fat) levels if you:
- manage your blood glucose (sugar)
- limit alcohol and foods high in sugar
- eat fish at least 2 times a week
For more information on tips for heart healthy eating, go to the
Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation: Healthy eating basics.
Manage blood glucose (sugar) – What and when you eat can help you keep your blood glucose level in a healthy range. Managing your blood glucose is very important if you have diabetes. A healthy blood glucose can also help you heal faster and lower your risk of infection after transplant. Talk to your healthcare team if you need help managing your blood glucose.
Find the weight that’s right for you – A healthy weight helps your body to function at its best. Your healthcare team can help you find a weight goal that’s right for you. Reaching and staying at your healthy weight can lower the risk of your new kidney not working. You can check whether you’re at a healthy weight by finding your
Body Mass Index (BMI). For most people, a healthy body weight is a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9.
Build healthy bones – Keeping calcium, phosphorous, and vitamin D in balance helps your bones stay strong, as well as helping with heart health. Talk to your dietitian and your pharmacist about how you can keep your phosphorus levels in a healthy range through diet and phosphorus binder pills (if prescribed). Your dietitian can help you learn about foods that can help you get enough calcium and Vitamin D.
Keep an active lifestyle – Being active helps you feel better emotionally and physically. Most people who exercise say that they feel better and have more control over their lives. Getting the right nutrition is an important part of keeping active. Talk to your healthcare team if you don’t have the energy to get or stay active. They may be able to help you make changes to your diet or care plan to help you keep moving.
Activity can help you feel better as you live your life. Being active can:
- lower your risk for heart disease
- lower your blood pressure
- lower your blood glucose
- help keep your bones healthy
- help you sleep better
- make you stronger
Eating well and living an active lifestyle are important to keep you healthy no matter what stage of kidney disease you’re at. To be healthier in the future, develop healthy habits now. Talk to your dietitian or healthcare team if you have any questions.