Can people on dialysis eat fruits?

Most patients on dialysis are asked not to eat any fruit. All fruits, they say have high potassium. A high potassium is bad for the heart. "You can even die", they are told.

This is not entirely true!

Here is a table of the potassium content of some foods:

Food ItemPotassium content*
Whole Wheat Flour315
Green Gram843
Buffalo's Milk90
Cow's Milk140
*mg of Potassium per 100 g of edible item
(Source: Nutritive Value of Indian Foods - National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad)

If you look at the table above, you can clearly see that some fruits have much less potassium than other foods that we commonly eat!

Then why is it  that we are asked not to eat fruits? I am not so sure!

I believe people on dialysis can have a little low potassium fruit everyday. And on the day of dialysis, some additional fruit just before dialysis or during the first half an hour of dialysis should not harm either.

I find that the craving for some food is probably worse than the effect of the food itself. When people are deprived of something, they start craving for that.

I remember hearing a dialysis patient saying he hasn't tasted a mango for the last four years! The technician told him he can have half a little mango in the first half an hour of dialysis. He was so excited! He is still alive and kicking.

Doctors and dietitians probably don't realize that craving something can lead to depression. So why deny someone the joy of a fruit when he or she can actually have it safely?

On dialysis, especially when you are getting good, regular dialysis (at least thrice weekly, four hours each time), then you can eat most things, provided they are in moderation.

So, feel free to talk to your doctor or dietitian about this and check whether you can enjoy a little fruit as well!


Anshuman said…
a big problem with these restrictions, particularly fruits and fluids is that they get to your mind. Sometimes during meetings I find myself distracted and you know why - thinking about a chilled coke or a hot aloo tikki :-)
Anonymous said…
Hi Kamal,

In this article you said, minimum thric weekly HD. Why thrise minimum?

What happens if patient takes twice weekly and on every dialysis weight is reduced by 4-5Kg (i.e. bringing him to dry weight) and blood parameters are within range.

Why doctors are behind the patient and advice for thrise weekly? Is it the money, in which they are interested?
Kamal D Shah said…
Hi Anonymous,

Dialysis replaces kidney function for us. Kidneys work 24X7. So, the more dialysis you get, the better. I do dialysis six days a week, for seven hours each day.

It has been proved that increased frequency, longer duration dialysis leads to better outcomes i.e., increased life span, better quality of life, lesser side effects (LVF, neuropathy etc.). The diet restrictions can also be more relaxed with more dialysis.

So, thrice a week is the bare minimum that a person should get. They should even try to go for every alternate day dialysis so that there is no two day gap. The two day gap can cause increased fluid and potassium build up which can be fatal.
Kamal D Shah said…
Anshuman, why did you mention a chilled coke??? Now, I need to have one asap!
Anonymous said…
Hi Kamal,

I came across to your blog just by chance and as I read your first post,I felt somewhat connected....I have also seen a long period of struggle with some incurable diseases...of my loved ones....I am really inspired by the zest of living a meaningful life of yours....really,had i been in your place,I would have given up by now...we dont value life and keep cribbing on small things....
i am really touched by the way you are helping have a long way to go....
Kamal D Shah said…
Thanks for your comment, Anonymous!
prachi said…
well....would like to be called prachi....than anonymous... :-)
Kamal D Shah said…
Well, then, thanks so much Prachi! Really appreciate your comment!
Anonymous said…