Kidney Stones Diet

A kidney stones diet should be designed to help regulate the body's biochemical systems, to minimize the risk of kidney stones formation.

Ideally, a kidney stone diet should be planned by a dietitian or other competent healthcare professionals, who are knowledgeable in this area.

This is important, since a diet for kidney stones should be uniquely formulated to deal with the specific needs of each individual.

Anyone who has a history of developing kidney stones, or whose relatives may have been affected by them, should consult a registered dietitian for assistance in designing an appropriate personal diet plan.

There are different types of kidney stones but the majority of them are made up of calcium salts. Others may be composed of magnesium, ammonia, or uric acid. It is important for persons who have been previously affected by kidney stones or whose relatives may have had this condition, to know the type of stones, which affected them. This information allows for an appropriate diet to be formulated, to correct or regulate the conditions that may have allowed the stones to develop. Appropriate foods for kidney stones prevention can only be determined after the type of kidney stone to which someone is susceptible is known.

A personal diet for kidney stones prevention should always be formulated by a registered dietitian. When formulating a personal diet to prevent kidney stones formation, factors such as the type of stone and the individual's medical history must be considered.

There are, however, some steps that can be implemented to minimize the risk of developing kidney stones. The following are general information and tips that provide an indication of what a typical kidney stones diet may include.

  • Drink lots of good quality water. This is probably the most important measure that one can take to prevent kidney stones from forming. On average, you should try to drink at least 3 quarts of water on a daily basis. This works out to approximately 12 glasses (8 ounce glass) of water, daily. Water helps to dilute the urine and minimize the chances of concentration of minerals and salts, which can bond together to form kidney stones.
    Dehydration is a root cause of kidney stones. Consequently, any kidney stone diet should start with the consumption of adequate amounts of water every day.
  • Drinking unsweetened cranberry juice can also form part of a diet for kidney stones. Cranberry juice acidifies the urine which may help to prevent formation of some stones. Persons who are prone to uric acid stones, however, should avoid too much cranberry juice or any food which may acidify the urine. Follow the recommendations of your health care provider.

  • Fresh lemon juice (unsweetened) mixed with warm water can also be implemented in a kidney stones diet. Similar to cranberry juice, lemon juice and water helps to acidify the urine, thus preventing the formation of some kidney stones. Similar to cranberry juice, though, this may not be appropriate for those who are prone to uric acid kidney stones.

    Knowing the type of kidney stones to which one might be susceptible and following the recommendations of a qualified dietitian cannot be overemphasized.

  • Consume foods rich in vitamin A. Good sources of vitamin A include potatoes, pumpkin, apricots, cantaloupes and alfalfa. Vitamin A helps to maintain a healthy urinary tract.

  • A kidney stones diet, for persons who may be prone to calcium stones, may include extra magnesium. This helps to increase the solubility (liquidity) of calcium oxalate, thus minimizing the risk of formation of calcium stones. Good natural sources of magnesium are sea-foods, brown rice, soybeans, and tofu.

    Supplements of magnesium and vitamin B6 can also be effective in reducing the formation of kidney stones.

  • Reduce consumption of salt and some salt substitutes. These are sometimes high in phosphates, which can contribute to the formation of some kidney stones. Ask your dietitian to recommend a good salt substitute, and be sure to read food labels.

  • A kidney stones diet should include lots of fresh fruits and raw vegetables. People who may find it difficult to eat raw vegetables can juice them. The taste of raw juiced vegetables isn't very appealing but adding an apple or other fruit tends to improve the taste.

    Healthy servings of fruits, especially those rich in potassium, have been known to reduce the risk of kidney stones formation. Some studies have shown that potassium helps to prevent some kidney stones formation. Potassium-rich foods include bananas, tomatoes, oranges, avocados, figs, beans and potatoes.

  • While increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables is important, the consumption of red meats should simultaneously be reduced. A vegetarian-based diet is much more effective in preventing kidney stones than a diet with high meat content. Fish or other white meats are good substitutes for red meats.

While the foods listed above provide general information on components of a typical kidney stones diet, the correct proportions and combinations would not be the same for each person. In determining appropriate foods for preventing kidney stones, many factors should be considered.

A kidney stone diet should be tailored to suit the specific needs of each individual. Factors such as the type of stone and other individual medical considerations must be taken into account, when designing a kidney stones diet.

For certain types of kidney stones, some foods can help to prevent kidney stones formation, while these same foods may not be appropriate for preventing other types of kidney stones formation. Always consult a competent healthcare provider for specific advice on an appropriate personal diet for kidney stones prevention.

Generally, a vegetarian type diet that is high in fiber and water and low in sodium and processed foods, is considered to be the most effective diet to prevent kidney stones from developing.

It should be noted that a kidney stones diet is not necessarily designed to remove kidney stones although, in some cases, increasing fluid intake (especially water) can help to dislodge kidney stones from the urinary tract. Once a kidney stone is stuck in the urinary tract and cannot be dislodged by increasing fluid intake, other treatment options (such as lithotripsy) may be necessary.

A good kidney stones diet can, however, help to prevent kidney stones from developing. If you tend to be affected by kidney stones, get in touch with your dietitian to help you devise your personal diet to prevent kidney stones formation.