Healthy eating before your transplant can help you heal sooner and prevent infections after your surgery. It doesn’t’ matter what stage of kidney failure you’re at, pre-dialysis, on hemodialysis, or on peritoneal dialysis, a dietitian can help you get ready for your transplant. They can also help answer any nutrition questions you may have.
Here are some tips to get you started:
Maintain protein levels – The amount of protein you need depends on many things. One of these is the stage of kidney disease you have. You need enough protein to get ready for surgery and for healing after your transplant. Your dietitian can help you find the amount of protein you need every day that’s right for you.
Promote heart health – Check with your dietitian if your cholesterol is high. They can talk to you about lifestyle and diet changes to help manage your cholesterol and promote heart health before your surgery.
- If you smoke, stop smoking
- A low sodium (salt) diet is important for heart health. Eating too much sodium in your diet can help raise your blood pressure and your risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Work with your dietitian to manage your calcium and phosphorous levels.
- Eat less saturated (animal) fat.
- Avoid hydrogenated or trans-fats. Read labels and choose foods with 0 trans-fat in the Nutrition Facts table on the food label.
- You can help lower your triglyceride (fat) levels if you:
- control your blood sugar
- limit alcohol and foods high in sugar
- eat fish at least 2 times a week
If you have any questions about how to lower your triglyceride levels, please speak to your dietician.
Manage blood sugar – If you have diabetes, what you eat can help you keep your blood sugar level in a healthy range. Managing your blood sugar can help you heal faster after surgery and lower your risk of infection after transplant.
Find the weight that’s right for you – 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 transplanted 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. If you know what your phosphorus level is, and how to control it with diet and phosphorus binder pills, you can help keep your bones strong.
Keep an active lifestyle – Most people who exercise say that they feel better and have more control over their lives.
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 sugar
- help keep your bones healthy
- help you sleep better
- make you stronger
Remember: 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.