Kidney Stone Prevention Tips
Kidney stones are one of the most common disorders of the urinary tract, affecting one in 11 people in the U.S. and sending over 1 million Americans to the doctor each year. There is no proven way to prevent stones from forming (heredity does play a role); however, you may be able to reduce your risk by changing your lifestyle and modifying your diet.
Here are some steps that you can take to help decrease your risk of developing kidney stones:
- Increase fluid intake: The best way to prevent most kidney stones is to drink enough fluids – about 2 to 3 liters per day. This will differ for each individual depending on your activity level and rate of perspiration. Water is best, though citrus drinks such as lemonade and orange juice have also been shown to help prevent kidney stones.
- Limit sodium intake: Sodium causes the kidneys to excrete more calcium, which increases the chance of developing kidney stones. Therefore, limiting foods that are high in salt/sodium can help prevent stones from forming. The recommended serving of sodium per day is 2,300 milligrams. You can monitor sodium intake by reading food labels.
- Adjust calcium supplementation: Calcium from food does not increase stones, but some studies have shown that supplements do, if not taken with meals. Your doctor can advise you on the most appropriate calcium levels, if you have a history of forming calcium oxalate stones.
- Reduce animal protein: Meats and other animal protein, like eggs and fish, can increase the risk of uric acid stones because they contain purines. People who have had uric acid stones should reduce their meat consumption to six ounces per day.
- Avoid foods high in oxalate: People who are more likely to form calcium oxalate stones should avoid foods high in oxalate such as beets, spinach, many types of berries, sweet potatoes, soy, nuts, chocolate, brewed tea, and colas. In fact, the southeastern U.S. is referred to as the “Stone Belt” due to heat and diets that emphasize greens and brewed tea.
- Consult a dietician: People who are prone to developing kidney stones may want to consult a dietician who specializes in kidney stone prevention to work on limiting or avoiding foods that may increase the chance of future stones or kidney problems, depending on the type of stone they have.
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Following are dietary guidelines for the prevention and management of kidney stones. Your doctor will advise which guidelines are appropriate for you based upon the type of stones you have experienced.