Dietary Recommendations for Preventing Kidney Stone Pain

When you think of kidney stones, your diet probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. However, these painful deposits form from mineral crystals in your urine. That means making dietary changes can play a crucial role in keeping them at bay. 

In fact, approximately 41% of kidney stone patients didn’t follow the nutritional recommendations they received after their first experience, resulting in recurring stone formation.

Our team at Urology Associates of Southeastern North Carolina in Wilmington, North Carolina, specializes in urinary conditions, including kidney stones. We recommend these steps to reduce your risk of kidney stones.

Know your stone

There are several types of kidney stones. The most common deposits include calcium and uric acid. The stones develop when these minerals crystallize in your urine with salt, forming a hard mass, often when your urine becomes concentrated. 

If you’ve had kidney stones once, you're more likely to have recurring problems. Fortunately, knowing which type poses a risk to you can help you take steps to avoid them in the future.

Be aware of calcium and oxalate

It’s a common myth that calcium causes kidney stones, and people assume that it’s best to reduce their calcium intake. However, a low-calcium diet can actually increase your chances of developing kidney stones. Instead, focus on eating calcium- and oxalate-rich foods during the same meals.

Foods high in calcium include yogurt, milk, ice cream, and many cheeses. Oxalate naturally occurs in items like:

Eating these foods together makes it more likely that the calcium and oxalate bind together before entering your kidneys as waste. If you've had calcium oxalate stones, we could recommend avoiding foods that are very high in oxalate, like peanuts, spinach, beets, chocolate, and sweet potatoes.

Avoid foods high in purine

When it comes to stones that form from uric acid, purine is typically to blame. This chemical compound comes from red meat, organ meat, and shellfish, and triggers higher-than-normal production of uric acid and creates a larger acid load on your kidneys to process. 

You then end up with more acidic urine, making it easier for uric acid stones to form.

To reduce your chances of uric acid stones, we recommend cutting back on high-purine foods, such as:

You should also limit your number of sweets, especially those containing high-fructose corn syrup, and decrease the amount of animal-based protein in your diet, including poultry and eggs.

Watch your sodium

You’ve probably heard that limiting sodium in your diet is good for your heart and blood pressure, but it also reduces your risk of kidney stones. Following a diet high in salt increases the amount of calcium in your urine, which can trigger kidney stone formation. 

To stay within healthy guidelines, limit your sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams each day. However, if you have a history of stones, we usually suggest reducing your daily consumption to 1,500 milligrams.

Drink plenty of water

The best move you can make to avoid kidney stones is to drink plenty of water. Staying properly hydrated helps to dilute substances in your urine that can trigger kidney stone formation. 

To keep your urinary tract in top condition, try to drink approximately 64 ounces of water each day so you produce around 2 liters of urine. To add extra stone-busting power, you can also add citrus to the mix, like lemonade and orange juice — just limit those that are high in sugar. 

Also, be aware of the water you lose through sweating. If you love being out in the heat of summer, sitting in a sauna, or exercising vigorously, be sure to rehydrate with plenty of extra water. 

The more you sweat, the less urine you pass, which increases your chances of minerals crystallizing and forming within your kidneys and urinary tract.

For more tips on kidney stones or to find treatment, contact our office in Wilmington, North Carolina. You can call us at 910-421-2505 or send us a message online today.

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