Discover The Right Diet for Kidney Stones

23 October, 2020
Kidney stones are hard masses formed by an accumulation of waste in the urine. The most common are caused by excess calcium and oxalate. Today, we'll tell you about the right diet for kidney stones.

If you have kidney stones, you may need to follow a special diet. Therefore, in this article, we’ll give you some advice so that you can follow the right diet for kidney stones. We’ll also provide examples of menus.

First, however, you’ll need to see your doctor determine what kind of stones your body produces. Then, from this, the doctor will be able to indicate which changes in the diet are the most appropriate.

What is a kidney stone?

Those who have had kidney stones say that it’s more painful than childbirth.

“That’s true. It’s a very sharp pain,” assures Dr. Miguel Arrabal, president of the Andalusian Association of Urology and head of the lithiasis and minimally invasive surgery unit at the University Hospital of Granada.

In 75% of the cases, the body expels the kidney stones spontaneously. However, in the remaining 25%, the size of the stone prevents natural expulsion and instrumental treatment is necessary.

A kidney stone is a hard mass that forms from crystals present in the urine. In most people, natural chemical compounds in the urine prevent the formation of stones.

Remember that not all types of kidney stones are the same. The most common type of kidney stone consists of calcium and oxalate. Therefore, individual treatment for kidney stones depends on the type of stone.

A pile of kidney stones next to a ruler.
Kidney stones are hard masses formed by the accumulation of waste in the urine. The most common ones are caused by excess calcium and oxalate.

Diet for Kidney Stones

It’s important to note that, depending on the type of stone, the right diet for kidney stones may vary. Often, this condition is due to the accumulation of:

  • Calcium oxalate
  • Calcium Phosphate
  • Uric Acid
  • Cystine

Read also: Kidney Stones: Lemon, Olive Oil, and Apple Cider Vinegar Remedies

1. Foods rich in calcium oxalate

Avoiding excess oxalate in the diet helps prevent mainly cases of calcium oxalate stones. Calcium is not the main cause of these stones, but oxalate-rich foods are a contributing factor, such as:

  • Spinach
  • Beet
  • Cocoa
  • Chard
  • Rhubarb
  • Refreshments
  • Teas (like black tea, yerba mate, or green tea)
  • Peanut
  • Coffee
  • Nuts
  • Seafood

It’s important to consume these foods only in small quantities, and an excellent strategy is to use a method called double cooking. This consists of cooking vegetables that are rich in oxalates twice, changing the water after the first round. By doing this, you reduce the amount of oxalate present in the food.

2. Diet for kidney stones: Avoid excess protein

The exaggerated ingestion of proteins such as meat or any animal product favors the production of uric acid and, in turn, the formation of stones. That’s why it’s important to limit your consumption of red meat. However, this isn’t just good for your health, but also for the health of the planet!

Raw steaks on a cutting board.
Consuming too much meat and animal products also affects the formation of kidney stones. It’s essential to moderate their consumption.

3. Diet for kidney stones: Regulate your salt consumption

Sodium is one of the main components of salt, and this facilitates the accumulation of salts in the body. Therefore, it’s important to avoid it.

Not only should you avoid common salt, but also industrialized foods that are rich in salt. For example, this includes bouillon cubes, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, sauces in general, frozen foods, and fast foods. Therefore, it’s advisable not to consume more than 2.5 grams of salt per day.

4. Excess of foods rich in vitamin C

You should also avoid foods and supplements with excessive vitamin C content. This is especially true when the stones are made of calcium oxalate since this vitamin can promote the formation of these stones.

5. Alcoholic beverages

You should also avoid the intake of alcoholic beverages. That’s because they cause the body to become dehydrated, favoring the formation of kidney stones, dehydration being one of the main causes of their formation.

Read also: 8 Symptoms that Can Alert You to Kidney Stones

The right diet for kidney stones: Sample menus

A bowl of chicken noodle soup.
A light menu can help treat kidney stones. Ae nutritionist can help design them according to each patient’s needs.

Diet plays an important role in preventing stones. Here are some ideas for a kidney stone diet that may help. However, remember that if you have any questions, you should consult your doctor.

Here are some ideas:

For breakfast

  • Option 1: 1 glass of juice with mint + 2 slices of wholemeal bread with white cheese
  • Option 2: 1 glass of natural yogurt + 1 tablespoon of honey + 2 scrambled eggs with tomato, onion, and oregano

For lunch/dinner

  • Option 1: 1/2 cup of rice + 1/2 cup of beans + 100 g of turkey breast + 1 cup of cooked vegetables + 1 tsp of olive oil
  • Option 2: 1 plate of chicken soup with carrot, potato, pumpkin, onion

For the snack

Things to keep in mind with a diet for kidney stones

The most important thing is to increase fluid intake to increase urine volume.

“You have to drink about three liters of water a day to urinate between two and two and a half liters and dissolve the salts,” advises Dr. José Luis Soler, a urologist at the Hospital Torrecárdenas in Almeria, Spain, and president of the XXVII Congress of the Andalusian Association of Urology.

Finally, we recommend that you visit a dietician so that they can give you advice specific to your condition. The professional will be able to more precisely evaluate what’s the best diet according to your needs.

  • Instituto Nacional de la Diabetes y las Enfermedades Digestivas y Renales. Alimentación, dieta y nutrición para las piedras en los riñones. Mayo 2017. niddk.nih.gov/health-information/informacion-de-la-salud/enfermedades-urologicas/piedras-rinones/alimentos-dietas-nutricion
  • The National Kidney Foundation (NKF). LA DIETA Y LOS CÁLCULOS RENALES. https://www.kidney.org/es/atoz/content/diet
  • Conte Visús Antonio. La litiasis hoy. Arch. Esp. Urol.  2007  Feb;  60( 1 ): 1-4. Disponible en: http://scielo.isciii.es/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0004-06142007000100001&lng=es.
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  • Finkielstein VA, Goldfarb DS. Strategies for preventing calcium oxalate stones. CMAJ. 2006;174(10):1407–1409. doi:10.1503/cmaj.051517
  • Han H, Segal AM, Seifter JL, Dwyer JT. Nutritional Management of Kidney Stones (Nephrolithiasis). Clin Nutr Res. 2015;4(3):137–152. doi:10.7762/cnr.2015.4.3.137