5 Diet Changes That May Reduce the Risk of Kidney Stones

Every year, more than half a million Americans go to the emergency room for kidney stone related problems. Although there is no definitive, single cause for kidney stones, making some changes to your diet can reduce your risk for developing new stones.

What are kidney stones?

Kidney stones are small, hard deposits made of minerals and acid salts. In many cases, the stones form when urine becomes concentrated, which allows the minerals and salts to stick together.

How can I prevent them?

Although there is no one-size-fits-all diet for preventing kidney stones, there are changes you can make to your diet that will reduce your risk of developing new stones.

  1. Stay hydrated. Adults should drink about 2 liters of liquid daily (eight 8-ounce glasses). Remember to replace liquids that are sweat out (through exercise or hot weather) in addition to the daily recommended intake. Stick to mainly water and no-calorie or low-calorie beverages.
  2. Reduce sodium intake. Avoid salty foods that have a lot of sodium (the C.D.C. recommends staying under 2,300 mg per day). The following foods are high in salt and should be eaten in moderation:
    • Cheese
    • Frozen foods and meats
    • Canned soups and vegetables
    • Bread (bagels, rolls, baked goods)
    • Salty snacks
  3. Eat the recommended amount of calcium. If you take daily supplements, make sure you aren’t getting too much calcium. Eating calcium-rich foods and beverages daily is recommended, and you can usually get enough daily calcium without supplements.
  4. Eat more fruits and vegetables. At least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily are recommended (especially those who form kidney stones). Fruits and vegetables provide potassium, fiber, magnesium, antioxidants, phytate, and citrate, which may keep stones from forming. One serving equals one piece of fresh fruit or one cup of raw vegetables.
  5. Eat less meat. Animal protein (including meat, fish, poultry, pork) can raise your levels of uric acid, which can cause stones to form. Your healthcare provider may recommend limiting the amount of meat you eat on a daily or weekly basis and recommend eating more plant-based protein options.

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