If you have kidney stones, you want to end the discomfort as soon as possible. Your doctor may have given you advice and possibly certain medications. Your diet and lifestyle can make a big difference when it comes to managing kidney stones. Let’s look at the best diet for preventing kidney stones.
The Link Between Kidney Stones and Diet
Kidney stones can have many causes, including genetics, lifestyle, being overweight, and a history of other medical conditions. While it’s unclear if your diet actually causes kidney stones, it’s established that once you have them you need to pay attention to what you eat and drink. In particular, there are certain kidney stone-forming foods that you must avoid. There are some foods and beverages that everyone with kidney stones should avoid. It also depends on the type of kidney stones you have.
What is the Best Diet For Calcium Oxalate Stones?
Calcium oxalate is the most prevalent type of kidney stone. They form when calcium binds with a substance called oxalate, found in many foods. It’s worth noting that, while you need to minimize oxalates in your diet when you have this condition, you shouldn’t avoid calcium. In fact, dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, are actually beneficial for calcium oxalate stones.
High Oxalate Foods to Avoid
- Vegetables —spinach, swiss green chard, beets, rhubarb, okra.
- Fruits —kiwi, figs, dried apricots, rubarb
- Grains — brown rice flour, bulgur, buckwheat, soy flour and wheatberries
- Legumes/Beans —navy beans, kidney beans, fava beans,
- Nuts & Seeds —almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pine nuts, chia seeds
- Soy —tofu, soybeans, veggie burgers made from soy.
- Miscellaneous —chocolate, black tea, beets, potatoes, dates,
The high oxalate stone list can be challenging at first. For example, vegetables to avoid for kidney stones include many that are otherwise considered healthy. However, a low oxalate diet still allows you many foods.
Low Oxalate Foods to Enjoy
- Dairy products.
- Meat & fish. While animal proteins are low oxalate, you should only consume them in moderation if you have kidney stones.
- Vegetables —broccoli, cabbage, mushrooms, zucchini, cauliflower.
- Fruits — blueberries, blackberries, bananas, lemons, mangos, peaches.
- Grains & starches —white rice, oat bran, corn flour.
You also have to be aware of drinks for kidney stones. Coffee is fine in moderation. Fruit juices made from low oxalate fruits are healthy. Lemonade (or lemon in water) can be beneficial, as lemons are high in citrates, which help prevent kidney stones.
Diet For Uric Acid Stones
Next to calcium oxalate stones, the most common variety is uric acid stones. These require different dietary guidelines. Cutting back on foods that stimulate the production of uric acid can help prevent uric acid stones. In particular, it’s best to avoid foods with a high purine content. Purines are compounds found in many foods that stimulate uric acid production. This includes red meat, organ meats, seafood, alcoholic beverages, and highly sweetened foods and beverages. Low purine foods include most vegetables and fruits, whole grains, most nuts, and low-fat dairy products.
General Dietary Guidelines For Kidney Stones
The best diet for preventing kidney stones depends on the type you have. However, there are a few general guidelines that apply to kidney stones of all varieties.
- Stay hydrated. One of the most important tips for preventing all types of kidney stones is to drink plenty of water. Drinking up to six 8 ounce glasses of water daily spread throughout the day or other beverages such as fruit juice or coffee (not soda, alcohol, or caffeinated energy drinks) flushes out the kidneys and helps stones to pass naturally.
- Cut back on calories. Being overweight is a high-risk factor for kidney stones. Cutting back on fattening foods and maintaining a healthy body weight can help prevent kidney stones from recurring.
- Lower your intake of salt. Sodium stimulates the production of calcium in the urine.
- Be careful about supplements. Certain supplements, such as Vitamin C or calcium, can make kidney stones worse. This is distinct from dietary calcium or Vitamin C. On the other hand, certain supplements, such as magnesium citrate and potassium citrate may be beneficial for preventing kidney stones.
Even medical experts don’t always know why some people get kidney stones. However, it is known that certain lifestyle factors within our control can make a big difference. Drinking plenty of fluids and avoiding kidney stone forming foods will go a long way toward managing kidney stones and preventing them from recurring.