Kidney transplant diet: do’s and dont’s to keep in mind post-kidney transplant

Kidney transplantation is a type of renal replacement therapy that is recommended for patients with end stage kidney disease. It is a surgical process wherein a kidney is removed from a healthy donor and transplanted into body of the ailing recipient (patient). Dietary recommendations change usually at all stages of kidney diseases including pre- dialysis stages, dialysis stage and the post-transplant stage. Diet that is prescribed post-kidney transplantation is known as kidney transplant diet.

As the new kidney takes the functions of the old non-functioning kidneys, several lost functions are restored. Hence, patients do not require strict dietary restrictions. Lets take a look into what is a kidney transplant diet:

A transplant diet is usually different for the first 6-8 weeks. Thereafter, it is modified and is almost close to a general diet with well balanced nutrients (except for individuals with nutrition complications like diabetes, overweight or obesity abnormal lipids, etc)

Herewith outlined are a few dietary restrictions post kidney transplantation:

  • For the first 6 weeks; you will need a high protein diet to counter the effect of surgery as well as the medications needed post- transplantation and to promote wound healing
    • In order to increase the protein intake, you may prefer proteins with high biological value like egg whites, milk and milk products like curd, paneer, fish, chicken, etc
    • A combination of cereal and pulse recipes like idli/ dosa/ khichdi, etc, too can form a good quality protein and should be preferred.
    • In order to minimize any chances of food infection post-transplant, you may be advised to prefer only well-cooked foods and avoid any raw food items like fruits, salads, chutneys, etc for first 3 months. Instead of raw forms, you may be asked to opt for fruits and salads in steamed form, for example – steamed apple/ pineapple/ carrots/ beetroot, etc
    • Regarding your fluid and salt intake, it would be decided by your doctor depending on your parameters like urine output, BP, swelling, etc. If these parameters are well under control you may be asked to drink plenty of fluids (upto 4-5 liters initially) and salt intake would be liberalized
    • Avoid sugar if you are a diabetic and if not, cut it down to a minimal requirement throughout the day. Replace table sugar from your routine diet with natural sweeteners like dates (check with your Renal Dietitian before making any changes in your sugar management)
    • After 6 weeks post-kidney transplant; you may be advised to switch to your regular dietary routine
      • In case you put on weight or you have raised blood sugar or lipids after first 6 months, you may be asked to consult your Renal Dietitian

Do’s to be kept in mind for kidney transplant diet:

For first 6 weeks:

  • Prefer plenty of fluids including drinking water (this is one of the major shifts from a renal or a dialysis to transplant diet)
  • Prefer normal to high amount of salt (iodized salt, amount as prescribed by your Nephrologist)
  • Prefer high protein food items like egg whites or paneer (Cow milk based)
  • Can prefer steamed fish or chicken
  • Prefer only well cooked food items
  • Maintain the time gap (as mentioned by your doctor) in between your transplant medicines and meals

Post 6 weeks:

  • Prefer healthy foods i.e. well cooked rotis, subji, dals/ pulses/ non-veg foods
  • Avoid excessively salty, spicy or fatty food items
  • Snack on healthy proteins like roasted chana/ boiled sprouts/ boiled eggs/ boiled chicken/ chicken soup
  • Adhere to a regular exercise routine

Dont’s to be kept in mind for kidney transplant diet:

For first 6 weeks:

  • Do not prefer any raw food items like raw salads/ chutneys, etc
  • Do not keep long gaps between meals
  • Do not prefer outside food items
  • Do not prefer processed or packaged foods
  • Do not prefer foods with artificial flavours or colours

Post 6 weeks:

  • Do not prefer raw foods and outside foods till your doctor allows
  • Do not allow extra weight gain as that may land you into trouble for your newly transplanted kidneys
  • Do not prefer unhealthy snacks like maida based foods for eg biscuits/ breads/ fried foods like chips/ wafers/ chaklis/ bhujia/ gathia, etc
  • Do not allow yourself to get dehydrated (due to loose motions/ vomiting/ etc; (in case you develop any infections and need to know your diet during infectious phase, click here)
  • Do not prefer smoking, alcohol and tobacco

Talk to your Renal Dietitian and get your diet planned as per your body parameters post kidney transplantation. to know more about our Renal Dietitian, click here

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