Significance of adopting specific dietary guidelines is crucial to prevent the formation of kidney stones. Kidney stones are hard, crystalline deposits that form in the kidneys or urinary tract and can cause severe pain when passing through the urinary system. Calcium oxalate stones are the most common type, followed by uric acid, struvite, and cystine stones.
Water intake: Adequate hydration is the cornerstone of kidney stone prevention. We recommend drinking two-three quarts (eight-12 cups) of fluids daily, primarily water, to dilute urine and reduce the likelihood of stone formation.
Protein power: Alongside hydration, a balanced intake of protein is crucial. Excessive protein consumption can increase the risk of kidney stones. Opting for plant-based protein sources, such as beans, lentils, and tofu, provides essential nutrients and is lower in purines than animal-based protein sources.
Reduce salt consumption: Limiting salt intake is another key factor in preventing kidney stones. High sodium levels can raise calcium levels, increasing the likelihood of stone formation. The study suggests aiming for no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of salt per day and choosing low-sodium options, especially when consuming processed or packaged foods.
Calcium is necessary: Calcium is vital in reducing the risk of kidney stone formation. We recommend consuming 1,000-1,200 milligrams of calcium per day from food sources like dairy products, leafy green vegetables, and calcium-fortified foods. Low-calcium diets can exacerbate kidney stone risk by causing the body to absorb more oxalate, a substance contributing to stone formation.
However, some studies warn against excessive calcium supplements. While dietary calcium is essential, an overabundance of calcium supplements may increase the risk of stone formation. It is crucial to consult a healthcare professional before starting any supplement regimen, especially for those with a history of kidney stones.
High oxalate foods: It is also advisable to consume high oxalate foods, such as spinach, rhubarb, beets, nuts, and chocolate, in moderation to reduce the risk of kidney stone development. Citrus fruits and juices, like oranges, lemons, and grapefruits, are high in citrate, which can help prevent kidney stone formation by binding to calcium in urine.
A kidney stone-preventive diet should include fresh, non-processed foods like fruits, vegetables, and fresh meats, which are low in sodium and high in essential nutrients. By following these dietary guidelines, individuals at risk for kidney stones can effectively reduce the likelihood of stone formation and maintain optimal kidney health.
(Dr Jatin Kothari is Director Nephrology & Chief Consultant Renal Transplant Medicine)
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