Urine consists of many dissolved minerals and salts. When there are high levels of minerals and salts in the urine, stones may form in the kidneys. Kidney stones may not cause any symptoms until they move around within the kidney or pass into the ureter (the tube that connects the kidney and the bladder).
While kidney stones are usually are a minor problem and pass on their own, they can cause severe pain. Medication is an option to improve the chance of passing a stone and offer pain relief. Surgery may be necessary for stones that affect kidney function, do not pass on their own, or cause severe pain that can’t be managed with medication.
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.
- 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.
- 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:
- Frozen foods and meats
- Canned soups and vegetables
- Bread (bagels, rolls, baked goods)
- Salty snacks
- Read the full list here
- 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.
- 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. Learn more here.
- 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.