If you have kidney stones, you may need to follow a different diet plan. First, your healthcare professional will run blood and urine tests to find what kind of risk factors you may have. Then your healthcare professional will tell you the diet plan and medical treatment you need to prevent from having kidney stones come back.
What is a kidney stone?
A kidney stone is a hard mass that forms from crystals in the urine. For most people, natural chemicals in the urine keep stones from forming and causing problems.
Are all kidney stones the same?
No, the most common type of kidney stone is calcium stone followed by uric acid stone. Diet changes and medical treatment are individualized based on the types of kidney stones, to prevent them from coming back.
What kind of diet plan is recommended to prevent stones?
There is no single diet plan for stone prevention. Most diet recommendations are based on stone types and individualized for each person.
Calcium Oxalate Stones: most common stones
Oxalate is naturally found in many foods but some high-containing oxalate foods are peanuts, rhubarb, spinach, beets, Swiss chard, chocolate, and sweet potatoes. The limited intake of these foods may be beneficial for people, who form calcium oxalate stones which is the leading type of kidney stone.
Eat and drink calcium foods such as milk, yogurt, and some cheese and oxalate-rich foods together during a meal. The oxalate and calcium from the foods are more likely to bind to one another in the stomach and intestines before entering the kidneys. This will make it less likely that kidney stones will form.
Calcium is not the enemy but it tends to get a bad rap! This is most likely due to its name and misunderstanding that calcium is the main cause of calcium-oxalate stones. A diet low in calcium increases your chances of developing kidney stones.
Don’t reduce the calcium in your diet. Work to cut back on the sodium in your diet and pair calcium-rich foods with oxalate-rich foods. The recommended calcium intake to prevent calcium stones is 1000-1200 mg per day (you can eat 3 servings of dairy products with meals to meet the recommendation).
Extra sodium causes you to lose more calcium in your urine. Sodium and calcium share the same transport in the kidney so if you eat high sodium foods it will increase calcium leakage in the urine. Therefore, a high sodium diet can increase your chances of developing another stone. There are many sources of “hidden” sodium such as
- Canned or commercially processed foods
- Fast foods
You can lower your sodium intake by choosing fresh low sodium foods which can help to lower calcium leakage in the urine and will also help with blood pressure control if you have high blood pressure.
Uric acid stones: another common stone
Red meat, organ meats, and shellfish have high amounts of a natural chemical compound known as purines. High purine intake leads to a higher production of uric acid and a larger acid load for the kidneys to excrete. Higher uric acid excretion leads to more acidic urine. The high acid concentration of the urine makes it easier for uric acid stones to form.
What to Eat and Avoid?
WHAT TO EAT
Vegetables are a great way to decrease your risk of developing kidney stones. However, some vegetables are better than others. Vegetables that contain oxalates are not good for your kidney stone diet. Stick to vegetables like
- green beans
These vegetables do not contain oxalates and can help you decrease the risk of kidney stones.
Citrate, found in citrus fruits, helps block the formation of kidney stones and can help keep you safe from them. Examples of citrus fruits that you should include in your kidney stone diet are
Dairy products like
are great sources of calcium, which is essential to balancing the oxalates in your diet. Increasing your daily intake can help reduce the formation of kidney stones.
Foods like salmon that are rich in vitamin D are also great for a kidney stone diet. Vitamin D helps absorb calcium better.
WHAT TO AVOID
Foods High in Salt
Salt is detrimental to a kidney stone diet. High sodium can increase the buildup of calcium in the urine, which can lead to kidney stones.
A low-sodium diet is essential to avoid kidney stone formation.
Eating red meat increases the levels of uric acid in the body, which can increase the chances of kidney stone formation. Additionally, animal proteins also reduce citrate in the body which blocks the formation of kidney stones.
To follow the kidney stone diet, consume less animal protein and more plant-based foods. However, be careful in choosing which vegetables to eat because some vegetables contain oxalates such as spinach, chard, and beets.
Soft drinks like Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola are high in artificial sugar (fructose, sucrose) and a chemical called phosphate, which promotes kidney stones. Make sure to cut them out of your diet.