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Diet and nutrition to follow after kidney transplant

Diet and nutrition plays an important role in recovering from kidney transplantation. A proper diet is required for complete healing of wounds. While kidney failure might have caused a few diet restrictions before transplant, most of these restriction will not be required after you underwent kidney transplantation surgery, hence diet plan for kidney transplant is much easier to follow when compared to haemodialysis diet.

Importance of proper diet after kidney transplantation

Proper diet and nutrition is important for healing of wound. It also reduces the risk of rejection and any infections. Dietician will recommend a proper diet plan suitable for your lifestyle and health of your kidney. In some cases, you may be able to eat foods that were restricted before the kidney transplant. A well-balanced diet will have the following benefits:

  • Prevents excess weight gain
  • Keeps blood sugar level within normal limit
  • Controls blood cholesterol
  • Helps in keeping blood pressure normal
  • Enough calcium to keep your bones strong
  • Prevention of Anemia

Diet and nutrition guidelines after kidney transplant

Your dietician will develop a suitable nutritional program based on your personal needs and health condition. Your medical reports, weight, kidney function and prescribed medicines will be considered for developing the diet plan. Diet plan can be short-term or long-term depending upon how your health condition improves. Listed below are the guidelines:

  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water, 2 liters approximately per day. It is important that you are well-hydrated. Limit your caffeine intake.
  • Protein: To re-gain the lost weight and muscle strength, your dietician will recommend how much protein intake is necessary.
  • Phosphorous: With the new kidney, your body would start rebuilding bone mass, which was lost during renal failure. In case of dip in blood phosphorous level, your dietician may recommend food high in phosphorous such as low-fat dairy products.
  • Potassium: Often transplant medicines can affect the level potassium (increase or decrease) which can cause problems with muscle and heart function. You will be recommended food to control your blood potassium level.
  • Sodium or Salt: You might experience high blood pressure or fluid retention after kidney transplant surgery, in such case low-salt food will be recommend. Unlike potassium and phosphorous level which can be controlled in few months, low-sodium diet might be for a longer duration.
  • Fat: For a healthy weight and healthy heart, your dietician will recommend a low-fat diet.

Food to be avoided after kidney transplant

Based on your kidney health, medication and reports, dietician will brief you about high-risk food that can interact with medications and cause side effects.

  • Pomegranate and grapefruit: Pomegranate and Grapefruit or juice can cause strong reaction with immunosuppressant medication, hence should be avoided.
  • Avoid herbs: You should not be taking any herbs or herbal teas as they can interact with post-transplant medication and cause reactions.
  • No raw or undercooked food: Undercooked or raw food can put you at a risk for severe intestinal illness due to weakened immune system, so eating undercooked meat, seafood or poultry items is not recommended.
  • Unpasteurised dairy product like cheeses, yoghurts made from raw milk
  • Sprouts like alfa alfa, bean sprouts

Long-term nutritional management

Long-term nutritional management includes heart healthy diet and exercise. Often the side effects of medication can be felt after few months or years which is generally excess weight gain or high cholesterol level, which can further lead to heart disease. Your doctor will monitor progress of your health and you might be asked to keep a check on blood pressure level and weight.

Apart from staying hydrated, heart healthy diet includes low-fat milk, lean meat and fish, fiber, plenty of vegetables and low salt. Regular exercise and cooking food in low-fat is highly recommended.

Food safety after kidney transplantation

Food safety is a must and very important. If food is not handled properly it can lead to serious illness. Guidelines to food safety are as follows:

  • Wash hands properly before handling food, after touching raw meat or chicken or fish, after handling pets etc.
  • Store raw and cooked food separately.
  • Cook food thoroughly
  • Check labels of food for ingredients, expiry dates etc.
  • Avoid smoked meat, sushi, fish, unpasteurised dairy products.
  • Be careful when eating out

Conclusion

After kidney transplant you shall be enjoying normal meals after a long time. Some might feel increase in appetite which could result in over eating and excess weight gain. New kidney may not require dialysis but chances of damage still exist. Hence a balanced diet can reduce the chances of complication and control the conditions which caused kidney failure. Your doctor and dietician will from time to time make changes in your diet plan, depending upon your health condition. The aim of diet and nutrition plan after kidney transplant is to promote overall sustainable wellness and health.

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