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Nutrition After Transplant

Nutrition plays an important role in helping the body heal after transplant. For the first few weeks after transplant surgery, it is important to eat enough calories and protein to help your body heal, fight infection, and provide the energy you need.

Once your transplant starts working well, your appetite and sense of taste will mostly likely improve. Weight gain can be a problem after transplant, as well as elevated blood sugar and elevated cholesterol levels due to certain side effects of anti-rejection medication.

Recommendations to ensure a healthy diet

  • Eat three meals a day and include protein with each meal.
    • Good sources of protein are chicken, fish, lean cuts of red meat or pork, and low-fat dairy products. 
  • Avoid deep fat frying.
    • The best way to prepare food is to bake, roast, grill, boil, or use the crock pot.
  • Salt restriction is usually needed after transplant to minimize fluid retention and help control blood pressure.
    • Limit sodium to about 3 gm or 3,000 mg/day. 
  • Limit high sugar foods and drinks.
    • Avoid high calorie foods with low nutritional value such as doughnuts, candy, cookies, ice cream, and other junk food. 
  • Eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods instead of highly processed foods. 
  • Maintain an appropriate weight, and exercise regularly once the doctor has given you the ok to start an exercise regimen.

Use safe food preparation techniques

  • Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. 
  • Do not defrost foods on the counter. Defrost food in the refrigerator.
  • Use separate knives and cutting boards for raw meat and other foods items. 
  • Always wash your hands before preparing foods and between handling raw meats and other food items.

Avoid the following:

  • Grapefruit, grapefruit juice, pomegranate, and pomegranate juice.
  • Raw or undercooked meats, raw seafood/shellfish/sushi.
  • Unpasteurized milk/dairy products.
  • Unpasteurized fruit juices and ciders.
  • Fresh (uncooked) bean sprouts/alfalfa sprouts.
  • Beware of buffets, salad bars, and potlucks. All can be a source of food borne illness.

You will receive specific diet education from one of our dietitians after your transplant. Our dietitians are available before and after transplant to assist with any dietary needs you may have.