Foods To Eat And Avoid To Prevent Kidney Stones
Can changing the food habits help in preventing the hazards of kidney stone? The answer is ‘Yes’. Following the right diet can be an effective tool in preventing and managing the kidney stones. Avoiding certain foods which are high in salt and sugar, pairing calcium with oxalate-rich foods, and staying hydrated play a crucial role in helping you avoid the development of kidney stones in your body.
When certain chemicals in your urine become concentrated enough to solidify and form crystals, kidney stones are formed. Calcium combines with phosphorous or oxalate to form stones. The stones can also develop due to the uric acid. High oxalate intake through certain foods, low fluid intake, high protein diet, and a lot of sodium tend to cause the development of the kidney stones. The consumption of foods which are high in oxalate contributes to the formation of calcium oxalate stones in your body. The intake of a diet which is high in protein contributes to the development of calcium-phosphate stones. And, the consumption of diet which is high in sodium and dehydration tend to form uric acid and cystine stones.
Here are some dietary changes you can make to prevent and manage stone formation:
- Drink Plenty Of Water:
Water intake should be increased as an increased water intake dilutes the substances in the urine that otherwise would lead to the stone formation. Make sure you drink minimum 3-4 liters of water per day.
- Increase Citrus Intake:
The citrate present in citrus beverages, such as orange juice and lemonade, helps to block the formation of kidney stone. Thus, increased citrus intake helps you keep kidney stones at bay.
- Get Enough Calcium From Foods:
Low levels of calcium can cause an increase in oxalate levels which lead to the formation of kidney stones. So, make sure you have sufficient intake of calcium through your diet. A calcium supplement when taken along with Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. However, appropriate intake of calcium from food is always preferable rather than from calcium supplements. So, add calcium sources, such as milk, cheese, legumes, tofu, and dark green vegetables, to your regular diet.
- Reduce Oxalate:
Oxalate is known to be an anti-nutrient present in several plant foods, such as vegetables, cocoa, and leafy greens. In addition to this, your body too produces oxalate in significant quantities. An increased intake of oxalate may cause increased levels of excretion of oxalate through your urine, and this can be a cause of concern for individuals who tend to develop calcium-oxalate stones. It is important to note that oxalate can bind with minerals, such as calcium, and lead to the development of kidney stone. So, if you have hyperoxaluria, which is a condition in which you tend to have high levels of oxalate in your urine, it is recommended to have a low-oxalate diet to avoid the formation of stones. Avoid foods, such as spinach, nuts, tea, chocolate, beet, and sweet potatoes.
- Limit Animal Protein:
The chances of formation of the kidney stones increase when the consumption of animal protein increases. Eating a lot of animal protein boosts the level of uric acid, and it could lead to kidney stones. Also, a high protein diet reduces the levels of citrate, which is a chemical present in urine that aids in the prevention of the formation of kidney stones. Avoid or limit the intake of these animal-protein rich foods, such as eggs, fish, shellfish, chicken, pork particularly organ meats, milk, and dairy products.
When you are avoiding the intake of animal protein, make sure you replace it with plant-based foods which are high in protein. Foods you can eat for plant-based proteins are quinoa, lentils, tofu, beans, dried peas, soy milk, sunflower seeds, pistachios, almonds, cashew nut, and walnuts.
- Reduce Salt:
Calcium buildup increases in your urine due to high sodium levels in your body. Sodium is a prominent part of common salt. So, avoid adding extra salt to your regular foods. Also, avoid fast foods, such as packed, canned, and processed foods, as they are high in sodium.
- Limit Sugar Intake:
If possible, eliminate or limit your sugar intake. Added sucrose and fructose increases the risk of the formation of stones. So, avoid having processed foods and drinks, such as cakes, soft drinks, canned juices.
- Eliminate Colas:
Avoid cola drinks, as it is high in phosphate which tends to cause the formation of stones.
Now that you know these nine important diet tips to avoid the risk of kidney stones, make sure you follow them and enjoy a pain-free, healthy life.
– Written by Dr. Mithila K, Associate doctor to Dr. Rajesh Shah, M.D