Kidney stones are a common health problem for many people.
However, there are a few things you can do to reduce this risk. This article explains what kidney stones are and outlines 8 dietary ways to fight them.
What Are Kidney Stones?
While smaller stones are usually not a problem, larger stones may cause a blockage in part of the urinary system as they leave the body.
This can lead to severe pain, vomiting and bleeding.
Kidney stones are a common health problem. In fact, about 12% of US men and 5% of US women will develop a kidney stone during their lifetime (3).
Below are 8 natural ways you can reduce the risk of forming another kidney stone.
Bottom Line: Kidney stones are firm lumps formed from crystallized waste products in the kidneys. They are a common health problem and passing large stones can be very painful.
1. Stay Hydrated
When it comes to kidney stone prevention, drinking plenty of fluids is generally recommended.
Fluids increase the volume and dilute the stone-forming substances in urine, which makes them less likely to crystallize (3).
On the other hand, consuming a lot of soda may contribute to kidney stone formation. This is true for both sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened sodas (9).
Bottom Line: Staying hydrated is important for preventing kidney stones. Yet some beverages may decrease the risk, while others may increase it.
2. Increase Your Citric Acid Intake
- Prevents stone formation: It can bind with calcium in the urine, thus reducing the risk of new stone formation (18, 19).
- Prevents stone enlargement: It binds with existing calcium oxalate crystals, preventing them from getting larger. It can help you pass these crystals before they turn into larger stones (16, 19).
An easy way to consume more citric acid is to eat more citrus fruits, such as grapefruit, oranges, lemons or limes.
You can also try adding some lime or lemon juice to your water.
Bottom Line: Citric acid is a plant compound that may help prevent kidney stones from forming. Citrus fruits are great dietary sources.
3. Limit Foods High in Oxalates
However, your body also produces it in considerable amounts.
A high oxalate intake may increase oxalate excretion in urine, which can be problematic for people who tend to form calcium oxalate stones (21).
Oxalate can bind calcium and other minerals, and form crystals, which can lead to stone formation (21).
However, foods high in oxalate also tend to be very healthy, so a strict low-oxalate diet is no longer recommended for all stone-forming individuals.
Before changing your diet, consult your doctor or dietitian and get tested to find out whether you will benefit from limiting high-oxalate foods.
Bottom Line: Foods high in oxalate can be problematic for some people. However, seek advice from a health professional before limiting these foods, as it’s not necessary for all stone-forming people.
4. Don’t Take High Doses of Vitamin C
One study among middle-aged and older Swedish men found that vitamin C supplement takers may be twice as likely to develop kidney stones as those who don’t take supplements (23)
However, note that vitamin C from food sources, such as lemons, is not associated with an increased stone risk (27).
Bottom Line: There is some evidence that taking high doses of vitamin C supplements may increase the risk of calcium oxalate kidney stones in men.
5. Get Enough Calcium
It’s a common misunderstanding that you need to decrease your calcium intake in order to reduce your risk of forming calcium-containing stones.
One study placed men who had previously formed calcium-containing kidney stones on a diet containing 1,200 mg of calcium per day. It was also low in animal protein and salt (29).
The men had about a 50% lower risk of getting another kidney stone over five years than the control group, who followed a low-calcium diet of 400 mg per day.
Dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt are good dietary sources of calcium.
For most adults, the recommended daily intake (RDI) of calcium is 1,000 mg per day. However, the RDI is 1,200 mg per day for women over the age of 50 and everyone over the age of 70.
Bottom Line: Getting enough calcium may help prevent kidney stone formation in some people. Calcium may bind to oxalate and prevent it from being absorbed.
6. Cut Back on Salt
A high intake of sodium, a component of table salt, may increase calcium excretion through urine — which is one of the main risk factors for kidney stones (33).
Bottom Line: If you’re prone to forming kidney stones, restricting sodium may help. Sodium may increase the amount of calcium you excrete in urine.
7. Increase Your Magnesium Intake
It is involved in hundreds of metabolic reactions within your body, including energy production and muscle movements (40).
The RDI for magnesium is 400 mg per day. If you want to increase your dietary magnesium intake, avocados, legumes and tofu are all good dietary sources.
To get the maximum benefits, consume magnesium along with the foods you eat that are high in oxalate. If that’s not an option, try to consume the source of magnesium within 12 hours (45).
Bottom Line: Some studies show that increasing your magnesium intake may help decrease oxalate absorption and reduce the risk of kidney stones.
8. Eat Less Animal Protein
A diet high in animal protein sources, such as meat, fish and dairy, is associated with a higher risk of kidney stones.
All foods contain purines, but in different amounts.
Bottom Line: A high intake of animal protein may increase your risk of developing kidney stones.
Take Home Message
If you’ve had a kidney stone, you’re very likely to develop another one within 5–10 years. The good news is that certain dietary measures may help reduce this risk.
You can try increasing your fluid intake, consuming foods rich in certain nutrients, eating less animal protein and avoiding sodium, to name a few.
Just a few simple measures may go a long way in preventing painful kidney stones.
A quick note from our founder-
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To begin, I apologize for the dark nature of today's email.
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Imagine a rotting corpse draped over your body from head to toe...
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Is Bread Really the Staff of Life… or the Stuff of Disease?
For most us, there are few foods more comforting than bread.
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And that smell… few scents are quite as pleasant as fresh bread baking in the oven.
But there is a lot of confusion as to where bread fits into a healthy diet.
The Bible practically commands followers to eat it: “Give us this day our daily bread…” The government put it at the base of the food pyramid. And for centuries, it has been called “the staff of life.”
Of course, there are some who disagree…
Well-known cardiologist, Dr. William Davis, calls wheat “the perfect chronic poison.”
And for a poison, we sure eat lots of it…
The average American consumes 55 pounds of wheat flour every year, making refined flour the #1 source of calories in the American Diet – a situation that nutrition expert Chris Kresser describes as, “a public health catastrophe.”
So, what is the truth about bread and wheat?
- Is it the perfect poison… or an essential daily food?
- Is “gluten-free” bread better for you than regular bread?
- And can you still eat bread… while maintaining a lean body and optimal health?
The answers to these questions may surprise you!
Be sure to read #5 – the biggest surprise of all!
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Sponsored Health Resources
In the years that I've been working on this website project I've come across some amazing resources by some very special people. I'd like to share them with you here.
NOTE: I update these links often so please check back to see what's new!
1) Everyone knows green smoothies are healthy right? Have you heard of a “red” smoothie? If not, check out this story…
2) Forget what you've read about 10-day lemonade cleanses, 7-day detoxes with green juices and Gwyneth's gruel. All you need to do, and this is perfect for Saturday or or anytime really, is a simple 1-day cleanse.
3) This “hidden survival muscle” in your body will boost your energy levels, immune system, sexual function, strength and athletic performance when unlocked.
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5) Turmeric is amazing. The problem is - It's hard to absorb!
6) Wonder why your stomach still sticks out even though you're hammering the core exercises every day? It's a common myth that bulging belly is due to weak abdominal muscles.
7) Even if you're the most active of athletes, you may still suffer from tight hip flexors due to the amount of time you spend each day planted to a chair.
Enjoy! Let me know how these work out for you. And if you run across anything I've missed please let me know.