Kidney stone, also known as renal calculi, nephrolithiasis, or urolithiasis, is a hard crystalline object formed within the kidneys or urinary tract. There are four types of kidney stones – calcium and oxalate, uric acid, struvite, and cystine. Kidney stones are extremely painful to bear and no one wants to experience them again. Refer to Myth vs facts of Kidney Stone for more details on kidney stone, its causes, symptoms, and treatment.
Although there are many causes for kidney stones, the most important one is diet. One needs to be careful regarding the food intake to avoid kidney stones or when suffering through kidney stones.
What to drink and eat to prevent kidney stones?
1. Keeping yourself hydrated – It is required for a person to drink a minimum of 8-12 ounce glasses of water every day to keep oneself hydrated. Drinking plenty of water ensures that a person urinates regularly which prevents any build-up of calcium or uric acid in the body. It also dilutes the chemicals and prevents any type of stone formation.
2. Increase citrus intake – Citrus fruit and juice help in reducing and blocking the formation of kidney stones. Oranges and lemons are rich in citrus and should be part of your regular diet.
3. Intake proper calcium – One of the greatest myths regarding kidney stones is that if calcium intake is low then it reduces the chances of formation of kidney stones, which isn’t true at all. In fact, it increases the chances of kidney stone as the body produces more oxalate which is the prime key factor in stone formation when calcium and vitamins intake is reduced or stopped. So, intake calcium directly from food and avoid a higher risk of formation of kidney stones. Foods rich in calcium are – milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, tofu, legumes, dark-green vegetable, nuts, etcetera.
4. Intake proper vitamins and minerals – Eat lots of fruits and green vegetables and take a balanced healthy diet. Don’t forget to intake vitamin-D as it helps the body in absorbing calcium easily. Foods rich in vitamin-D are – cow’s milk, orange juice, various breakfast cereals, mushrooms, fish, etcetera.
What to limit or not to eat and drink when having kidney stones?
1. Limit salt intake – Salt contains sodium which should be monitored when suffering through kidney stones. A high intake of sodium leads to a build-up of calcium in the urine. Take a low salt diet and avoid food containing high levels of sodium.
2. Reduce animal protein intake – Food items like red meat, pork, organ meats, shellfish, etcetera contain a high level of a natural chemical compound called purine. High purine intake leads to higher production of uric acid which can cause more kidney stones. Purine also reduces citrate in the urine which is a big disadvantage as citrate prevents stone formation. So, avoid high-purine diet and intake alternatives to animal protein to maintain a basic level of protein in the body. Alternative food items to animal protein include – quinoa, tofu (bean curd), hummus, chia seeds, and Greek yogurt.
3. Limit alcohol consumption as alcohol tends to increase uric acid in the urine, leading to more stone formation.
4. Limit sugar intake – Control sugar intake as sugar tends to increase calcium concentration in urine by reducing the urine volume, leading to stone formation.
5. Say no to soda drinks – Soda is high in phosphate which promotes the formation of kidney stones in the body. Thus, it is highly advisable to stop the intake of soda drinks (Cola, Dr. Pepper, etcetera) containing phosphate when suffering through kidney stones.
6. Vitamin and mineral supplement – Before taking any kind of supplements, it is highly recommended to confirm it with your physician as in some cases supplements increase the chance of stone formation.
7. Last but not the least, stop the intake of raw tomatoes as tomato contains oxalate which is a prime key factor for calcium-oxalate stone formation. Well-cooked tomatoes can be eaten and are safe.
At last, it is not necessary that these dietary preventions will prevent the stone formation or help in healing one, as every person is different. So, before proceeding further with these tips, do take advice from your physician.