Kidney stones (also known as renal calculi, nephrolithiasis, or urolithiasis) are mineral and salt deposits that grow inside the kidneys.
A kidney stone is a solid mass or crystal with an uneven shape that can range in size from a grain of sand to a golf ball. The patient may not even be aware that they have a kidney stone (or stones) depending on their size. Even little stones can be very painful as they pass through the urinary tract. The process, which might take up to three weeks, maybe aided by drinking water.
A big kidney stone might become stuck in the ureter (the tube that drains urine from the kidney down to the bladder). The stone can cause bleeding and prevent urine from leaving the body. Surgery may be required if a stone does not pass on its own.
Kidney Stones Diet
Kidney stones occur in the urinary tract in a variety of ways. In the urine, calcium can mix with substances like oxalate or phosphorous. This can happen if the concentration of these compounds becomes so high that they solidify. An accumulation of uric acid can also induce kidney stones.
Uric acid is built up due to slow protein metabolism. Kidney stones are extremely painful to pass because the urinary tract was not meant to evacuate solid stuff. Fortunately, they can typically be prevented by changing one’s diet.
Follow these key actions to prevent kidney stones from forming for the first time or lower the risk of recurrence if one already has them:
- consume plenty of water
- avoid meals that contain high levels of oxalates
- limit intake of salt and animal protein
- obtain adequate calcium
There is no single diet plan for all types of kidney stones. For people with kidney stones, many dietitians and doctors who specialize in kidney problems, or nephrologists, prescribe the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.
This diet has been shown to minimize the risk of kidney stones and enhance other aspects of general health, including lower blood pressure and a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
The DASH diet promotes the consumption of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products. The strategy also recommends decreasing salt, sugar, and red meat consumption.
Dietary modifications, on the other hand, mostly influence persons who are at risk of the following forms of kidney stones:
- Calcium oxalate stones
- Calcium phosphate stones
- Cystine stones
- Uric acid stones
To support effective dietary choices, people should consult with their healthcare professional to determine which form of kidney stones they have had, if any. Rather than limiting calcium intake, the National Kidney Foundation recommends cutting back on sodium in the diet.
Food to eat
Dietary suggestions will differ depending on the minerals that are present in kidney stones.
A person should speak with their doctor about which foods produce stones to establish what they should and should not eat in order to prevent future stone formation.
The following are some kidney stone dietary recommendations to help prevent kidney stones from forming:
- Stay hydrated
Kidney stones are commonly caused by dehydration, therefore drinking more water can help prevent them. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) recommends consuming 6–8 glasses of water each day.
Other fluids, including water, are permissible. However, many drinks include a lot of salt, it’s important to check the sodium content of the drink.
- Increasing citrus intake
Citrus fruit and juice, which contain naturally occurring citrate, can help minimize or prevent the formation of stones. Lemons, oranges, and grapefruit are all good sources of citrus.
- Vitamin D
If one doesn’t get enough calcium; the oxalate levels may rise. Calcium should be obtained from food rather than supplements, as supplements have been linked to the production of kidney stones. Milk, yoghurt, cottage cheese, and various types of cheeses are all good sources of calcium. Legumes, calcium-set tofu, dark green vegetables, nuts, seeds, and blackstrap molasses are all vegetarian calcium sources. Lactose-free milk, fortified soy milk, or goat’s milk should be consumed if one can’t have cow’s milk. Make sure to include vitamin D-rich foods in the daily diet. Calcium absorption is aided by vitamin D. Fatty fish, such as salmon, mushrooms, and cheese, should be consumed.
- Fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are necessary parts of a balanced diet. Increasing the number of veggies in a person’s diet can help them avoid stone development. Dried, frozen, or fresh fruits are all options.
People should get familiar with high-oxalate fruits and vegetables like spinach and try to limit their intake. They can also be eaten in conjunction with calcium-rich foods.
- Protein derived from plants
Animal-based proteins are safe to eat in tiny amounts. Consuming too much animal protein, on the other hand, increases the risk of kidney stones.
Dietitians recommend include plant-based protein in a kidney stone diet. Beans, peas, and lentils can be consumed to meet the requirements.
People should see a doctor or a dietician about their specific protein requirements, which will vary from one person to the next.
Foods to avoid
If someone got a kidney stone, consult the doctor to find out the type of kidney stone. This will assist in determining which foods to avoid.
If someone is not sure — or just wants to be safe against all forms of kidney stones — a decent rule of thumb is to avoid too much salt, meat, and other animal protein.
- Limit salt intake
Calcium accumulation in urine can be exacerbated by high salt levels in the body. Avoid adding salt to food and check the sodium content of processed goods on the labels. Fast food, like conventional restaurant cuisine, can be rich in sodium. Make sure to request that no salt be added to any menu items ordered. Also, keep track of what to consume. Some vegetable juices have a lot of sodium in them.
- Reduce the consumption of animal protein
Many protein foods, including red meat, pig, chicken, poultry, fish, and eggs, raise uric acid levels. A molecule called citrate is reduced in urine when someone eats a lot of protein. The purpose of citrate is to prevent kidney stones from forming. Quinoa, tofu (bean curd), hummus, chia seeds, and Greek yoghurt are all good alternatives to animal protein. Protein is vital for overall health, so talk to the doctor about how much should one eat regularly.
- A plant-based diet may be the best option
Consume oxalates in moderation. Food high in this substance has been linked to the development of kidney stones. If the patient has experienced kidney stones before, they may want to cut down or eliminate oxalates from the diet. If they want to avoid kidney stones, they should consult a doctor about whether restricting these foods is enough. If the patient does not eat oxalates-containing meals, make sure they eat or drink calcium-rich foods with them. This will aid in the binding of oxalate to calcium during digestion, preventing it from reaching the kidneys. Oxalate-rich foods include:
- Sweet potatoes
- Swiss chard
- Colas should not be consumed
Cola drinks should be avoided. Phosphate, another component that might encourage the production of kidney stones, is abundant in cola.
Sugar should be used in moderation or not at all.
Sugars and syrups that are added to processed foods and beverages are known as added sugars. Adding sugar and fructose to the diet may raise the risk of kidney stones. Keep a watch on the quantity of sugar consumed, which can be found in processed foods like cake, fruit, soft drinks, and juices. Corn syrup, crystallized fructose, honey, agave nectar, brown rice syrup are all examples of added sugars.
Dietary guidelines for kidney stones
The following are some helpful hints:
- Every day, drink at least 12 glasses of water.
- Consume citrus juices like orange juice.
- Minimize the intake of animal protein, salt, added sugar, and goods containing high fructose corn syrup
- Eat a calcium-rich item at each meal
- Foods and beverages high in oxalates and phosphates should be avoided.
- Avoid anything that dehydrates, such as alcohol