How and why do you manage potassium?

SURVIVAL TIP: Most foods from the garden or grove have potassium. Learn which sources boast the most. Bananas, tomatoes, potatoes, and mushrooms are packed with the potassium, as are many fruits.

Carrots and TomatoesDialysis patients must manage how much potassium they consume. This mineral affects cell, nerve, and muscle function.1 Potassium also affects heart rhythm, and too much or too little potassium can cause heart failure.

You might have heard someone say they eat bananas to minimize leg cramps. Potassium is critical in many of the body’s functions, such as

  • Building proteins & muscle
  • Breaking down & using carbohydrates
  • Maintaining normal body growth
  • Controlling electrical activity of the heart (Potassium is an electrolyte.)
  • Controlling the acid-base balance

My potassium level tends to run on the lower end of acceptable levels. So I know to eat more of these potassium rich foods. If you are limiting potassium, avoid the foods in this chart. High Potassium Foods

The renal diet encompasses nearly every aspect of eating, and potassium in the diet of a kidney patient is a big consideration, particularly because many foods high in potassium are also high in phosphorus.

Did YOU KNOW You can lower the amount of potassium in potatoes? Peel potatoes and cut them into thin slices or small cubes. Soak the potatoes in at least four times the amount of water as spuds for at least an hour. (1 cup of potatoes should soak in 4 cups of water.) Alternately, peel and cut the potatoes as above. Then place them in a pot with water in the 1:4 ratio. Boil the potatoes until they are soft but still hold together. Drain the potatoes and again add the same amount of fresh water. Boil the potatoes again until soft but holding together. Then drain and prepare potatoes.

potatoes1I know first-hand how difficult the renal diet can be, especially for diabetics. Renal-friendly recipes provide hope when your diet is limited. My dietician gave me a great book named, “Fill Your Plate! A World of Tasty Recipes for the Kidney Community”. Davida also provides hundreds of recipes on-line. You can see them here.

We all benefit from sharing and learning together. Tell us in the comments your favorite kidney-friendly recipes or recipe resources! If you don’t have a go-to recipe, visit the RESOURCES below.

If you or someone you care about is facing dialysis, share your experiences and concerns. This is a forum for learning and inspiration where we can ask questions and be honest with others in the same situation. We are going through the same trials with different outcomes. What are your successes and challenges with dialysis?

1 “Living Well on Dialysis: A Cookbook for Patients and their Families”. ©1991-2012, National Kidney Foundation, New York, NY
“Fill Your Plate! A World of Tasty Recipes for the Kidney Community” ©2011 Fresenius Medical Care Holdings, Inc.


About dialysisgal

When I joined the 450,000 Americans on dialysis, I wondered what "normal" would be. Would people stare at my access and ask what was wrong? In this blog, I hope to save other patients and their families from the difficulties I have faced. I want to share my experiences, what I learned, had to ask and was shocked to find. I am not a medical professional, but I hope we can have a conversation to help you better understand what you or someone you love with chronic kidney disease (CKD) might expect while living with dialysis.
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