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Quinn on Nutrition: Diet tips to prevent kidney stones

September 22, 2014

"Heck of a day," a friend emailed. "At 10 a.m. I started having pain in my side. By 10:30 I was in the emergency room with pain so bad I could not lie still or breathe. Kidney stones! OK, dietitian, what can I do to not get this again??"

Funny you should ask. A recent review of this topic just appeared in the latest issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). Here are some things you can do, dear friend:

Salvage the stone if you can and have your doc analyze it. Really. Various kinds of stones can form in the kidneys and diet recommendations are based on the type of stone formed.

Calcium oxalate kidney stones are the most common. But that doesn’t mean to cut calcium out of your diet, says AND. In fact, a low calcium intake can increase your chances for forming these types of stones. Eat high calcium foods (such as dairy products) or calcium supplements with meals that contain oxalates — substances in foods that include as beets, spinach, rhubarb, strawberries, nuts, chocolate, tea, wheat bran, and beans. This allows calcium to bind with the oxalates in the digestive tract before they can be absorbed to produce stones in the kidneys.

Drink lots and lots of fluids, especially water. Kidney-flushing fluids to the tune of 2 liters or more a day for most adults can help stave off the formation of kidney stones. Some research also indicates that lemonade and orange juice — citrus-based fluids — may help prevent stones from forming.

Cut out extra salt. Sodium can cause the kidneys to excrete more calcium into the urine, which can increase the risk for some types of kidney stones.

Eat smaller portions of meat (no more than 6 ounces a day). Purines found in animal-based proteins are associated with the formation of uric acid and calcium stones. Liver and other organ meats, by the way, are especially rich in purines.

Pile more vegetables and fruit on your plate. These high fiber carbohydrates are rich in nutrients that may prevent certain types of kidney stones from forming. The DASH diet, for example, has been found to be especially effective for reducing the risk of kidney stones. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension and features plenty of vegetables and fruit, 2 or 3 servings of low-fat dairy foods daily, and small servings of meat and other animal proteins.

Drop a few pounds if you are overweight…just sayin’. Extra weight makes you particularly prone to uric acid kidney stones, according to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC). Remember too, says AND, there is not always a "nutritional cause" for kidney stones. But if there is, your care should be individualized with a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) at your service.

 

 





 


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