Eating a healthy diet is crucial for maintaining good health after a kidney transplant. Kidney failure can take a significant toll on the body, but with a new kidney, patients can overcome most of the metabolic constraints they faced before the transplant. Proper nutrition plays a vital role in post-transplant recovery and long-term health. To help patients understand what to do and what to avoid after a kidney transplant, we've divided the journey into two parts: post-surgery and long-term diet. After surgery, patients may need to follow a specific protocol for their diet, starting with a liquid diet and progressing to soft foods and then a normal diet. Good nutrition is essential to assist wound healing, prevent infections, and maintain electrolyte balance. Once solid food can be started, the following are addressed:
Also read: World Kidney Day: 7 Foods To Eat For A Healthy Kidney
Kidney Transplant And Diet: Post-Surgery Diet
Adequate hydration is crucial for a good recovery. Drinking at least 2 litres of water per day is ideal. Excessive caffeine intake should be avoided as it acts as a diuretic.
Adequate calorie intake is necessary to help the body stay energized so that wound healing is faster. Consuming 30-35 calories per kilogram of body weight per day is recommended during the recovery phase. Whole grains like wheat and oats should be a part of every meal or snack. If digestion is not up to the mark, easily digestible cereals like rice, sooji, and sago can also be used. Excessive sugar intake is not recommended as most patients are on steroids.
Kidney failure is associated with the loss of muscle mass, making it important to consume good-quality proteins in adequate amounts daily. Proteins are also needed to help maintain the immune system's integrity. Add dal/paneer, egg, chicken, or fish to every meal. Additionally, consume adequate dairy for the calcium it provides.
Every kidney patient is familiar with potassium, and post-transplant, the medical team keeps a strict eye on this mineral. Blood levels are a good tool to help choose potassium-rich foods like lemons, peaches, and bananas or avoid them if needed.
Sodium has a major significance to gauge the health of the kidney. While in the hospital, the nutrition team will give you some extra salt when needed.
Raw foods like salads and fruits, and uncooked sprouts will be avoided to prevent the entry of microbes, as the immune suppressants in your prescriptions also downgrade the immunity shield. Preventing infections is of prime concern. Certain foods like pomegranate and grapefruit must be avoided as they are contraindicated along with immunosuppressant drugs.
Kidney Transplant And Diet: Long-Term Diet
Once you recover from the surgery and are stable, the diet will continue to play a vital role in long-term health. The underlying metabolic causes that may have led to kidney dysfunction still remain, so if you are a diabetic, or have hypertension or high cholesterol, they need to be addressed to ensure the transplant's success.
1. Weight maintenance is crucial
Weight maintenance is crucial. Post-surgery, due to steroid-based drugs, you may feel extremely hungry, which can lead to weight gain. Eating adequate food with complex carbs, loading up on vegetables and fruits to control hunger, and daily exercise become the cornerstone for your health.
2. Avoid refined sugars, super-refined carbs, and processed foods
Refined sugars, super-refined carbs, and processed foods are detrimental to a healthy body. Food made with fresh ingredients brings all the nutrients your body needs and keeps it clean and nutritious. Avoid sugary drinks, packaged foods, fast foods, mathi, and rusk, etc.
3. Kidney diseases affect bone health
Kidney diseases have a profound effect on bone health. Phosphorus and calcium are essential to help build back the lost bones. Dals, whole grains, millets, eggs, and dairy products are rich sources of phosphorus.
Also read: Foods For Bone Strength: Load Up On These 7 Everyday Foods For Stronger Bones
4. Go for regular medical follow-up
Regular medical follow-up is necessary to monitor kidney function, medications and nutrition status. A registered dietitian can help personalize the diet according to individual needs.
5. Avoid alcohol and smoking
Avoid alcohol and smoking as it puts extra stress on the kidneys and affects overall health.
6. Stress management is important for overall well-being
Stress management is important for overall well-being. Meditation, deep breathing and yoga can help reduce stress and improve mental health.
7. Maintain good hygiene practices
Maintain good hygiene practices to prevent infections. Wash hands frequently, cook meat thoroughly and avoid contact with sick people.
8. Stay hydrated
Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and other fluids to flush out toxins from the body. Avoid sugary drinks, as they can increase the risk of weight gain and other health problems.
Educate yourself and your family members about kidney disease and its management to prevent complications and relapse.
In conclusion, a healthy and balanced diet is crucial for the recovery and long-term health of kidney transplant patients. Eating wholesome, nutrient-dense foods, staying hydrated, and avoiding certain foods and behaviours are important to maintain kidney function and overall well-being. It is essential to work with healthcare professionals, such as dietitians, to personalize the diet according to individual needs and to monitor kidney function and nutrition status regularly. By following these guidelines, kidney transplant patients can live fulfilling and healthy life.
About Rupali DattaRupali Datta is a Clinical Nutritionist and has worked in leading corporate hospitals. She has created and lead teams of professionals to deliver clinical solutions for patients across all medical specialties including critical care. She is a member of the Indian Dietetic Association and Indian Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.