People who have suffered through the pain of passing a kidney stone might be
all too eager to eliminate any and all foods from their diets that have been
linked to kidney stones. However, experts say this isn’t a good approach.
“Unless your doctor suggests you should avoid certain foods, your prevention
attempts may limit your diet unnecessarily,” says urologist Manoj
Monga, MD, Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Endourology and Stone
Kidney stones not created equal
Dr. Monga says kidney stones are not all the same. “There are five types of
kidney stones, all caused by different things in a person’s
diet,” Dr. Monga says. “Even the same type of stone can be caused by
different foods in different people,” he adds.
Also, some foods associated with kidney stones are very healthy and
shouldn’t be restricted unless shown to be a problem.
“We know certain foods are very good for general health, especially foods
that contain oxalates, like spinach, nuts, and strawberries,” he says. “When
people find out they have kidney stones, sometimes they restrict these foods
from their diet without a full evaluation.
The moral of the story? Don’t restrict your diet until your doctor performs
a full evaluation to determine what is causing your kidney stones, Dr. Monga
This typically involves collecting an entire day’s worth of urine, which is then
tested for various metabolites. Based on the results, a doctor can then make
recommendations about any dietary changes that need to be made.
What causeskidney stones?
Kidney stones are caused by a combination of genetic predisposition and
diet, Dr. Monga says.
Some risk factors include:
A diet high in protein, sodium
which can increase your odds of developing some types of kidney stones
A family history of kidney
Certain other medical
conditions such as obesity, gout
and other systemic diseases
Inflammatory bowel disease
and gastric bypass surgery because they cause changes in the digestive
process that affect how your body absorbs calcium and water
Changes anyone can make
Only your doctor can tell you what is causing your kidney stones. But there
are some dietary changes that can reduce your risk and are safe for anyone to
Limit sodium. “The one
thing we encourage people to do is limit sodium,” says Dr. Monga. “Go on a
1,500 mg-per-day diet. This low-sodium diet is healthy for the kidneys as
well as the heart.”
Drink more water. Dehydration
increases the risk of kidney stones, so people who sweat a lot or who live
in hot climates should be especially careful to drink enough water.
Eat more citrus and melon.
People can also reduce their risk of developing kidney stones and improve
their health in general by increasing their intake of melons and citrus
fruits like lemons, limes and oranges, says Dr. Monga.