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If you have recently had an organ transplant, you are probably wondering if your diet will be different from the one you followed before your transplant. You can get additional help in planning your diet from your doctor and a registered dietitian.
Yes. After an organ transplant, your diet still plays a big role. If you were on dialysis and had a kidney transplant, you may find that this diet is easier to follow than the one you were on for your dialysis.
Yes. Your diet will be affected by the use of necessary medications given to prevent rejection of your transplant. Some common anti-rejection medications that may affect your diet include:
This list will continue to grow as new medications are developed. These medications may change the way your body works in different ways which can be found in our free brochure, "Nutrition and Transplantation", by calling 800 622-9010.
Many people have a better appetite after they get a transplant, and they gain unwanted weight. Weigh yourself often. Avoid high-calorie foods such as fatty foods, sweets, pastries and other foods rich in fat or sugar. You can help control your calories by eating:
Controlling your weight will help to keep you from developing problems such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. If you gain unwanted weight, you will need to increase your physical activity and follow a low-calorie diet. Ask your doctor to refer you to a registered dietitian to plan low-calorie meals and snacks.
Additional information about diet and exercise are available in our free brochure, "Nutrition and Transplantation." You can obtain a copy by calling (800) 622-9010.
Fat (cholesterol or triglyceride) levels in your blood may be high. High levels of cholesterol and triglyceride can cause heart disease. There are many steps you can take to lower the fat and cholesterol in your blood. A complete list can be found in our free brochure.
You should know some important facts about carbohydrate foods:
Most transplant recipients still need to restrict salt, although it varies with each person. Transplant medications, especially steroids, may cause your body to retain fluid. Salt makes this problem worse, increasing fluid retention and raising blood pressure. Controlling blood pressure is very important to your transplant. Your doctor will decide how much sodium is best for you.
Protein is important for the following reasons:
Your protein intake will need to be higher than normal right after your transplant to help build up the muscle tissue that will be broken down by the large doses of steroids. Later, you can return to moderate amounts of protein.
As long as your transplant is working well, you should be able to take in normal amounts of potassium from your food. However, some transplant medications can increase your blood level of potassium, while other medications you need to take will decrease it.
You may need to pay close attention to your calcium and phosphorus levels. If you have been ill for a period of time, your body probably lacks the balance of calcium and phosphorus needed for healthy bones, especially if you had kidney disease. In the months after your transplant, your doctor will check for possible bone loss and talk to you about the best way to keep your bones as healthy as possible. In the meantime, every adult needs about two servings a day from the dairy group (milk, cheese and yogurt). Unless your doctor or dietitian has told you not to use these foods, try to include them in your meals. Your doctor may decide you need more calcium and phosphorus than this allows and may have you take a supplement. Do not start any supplements on your own, however, as this could affect your transplant.
After a transplant, your new diet may be higher in protein and lower in simple carbohydrates due to the effects of steroids and other medications. Work with your doctor and a registered dietitian to keep your diet and blood sugar in good control.
A more detailed explanation about nutrition after a transplant can be found in our brochure "Nutrition and Transplantation." You can obtain a copy by calling 800 622-9010.
If you would like more information, please contact us.
©2013 National Kidney Foundation. All rights reserved. This material does not constitute medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. No one associated with the National Kidney Foundation will answer medical questions via e-mail. Please consult a physician for specific treatment recommendations.