Can Diet Alone Treat Kidney Stones
For some people, dietary changes may be enough to prevent kidney stones from occurring.
In other cases, additional treatment may be necessary, including medication to break the stones up or surgery to remove the stones.
If stones become extremely painful, it is best to seek consultation with a doctor or nephrologist so they can recommend the best course of action.
What Nuts Are Bad For Kidney Stones
Usually its good to get more spinach and nuts in your diet. But if you have calcium oxalate stones, which are the most common type, your doctor may tell you to avoid or limit foods high in oxalates: Nuts, including almonds, cashews, pistachios, and peanuts.
What You Can Do To Prevent Kidney Stones
If youâve already had a kidney stone, your doctor may recommend medication to keep it from happening again. What kind will depend on what caused the stone.
Also, take charge of your diet:
- Drink lots of water. Stay hydrated, especially when you exercise.
- Check food labels. Read the ingredients. Avoid or cut back on foods with high amounts of ingredients like sodium chloride, monosodium glutamate , and sodium nitrate.
- Choose foods wisely. Usually itâs good to get more spinach and nuts in your diet. But if you have calcium oxalate stones, which are the most common type, your doctor may tell you to avoid or limit foods high in oxalates:
- Nuts, including almonds, cashews, pistachios, and peanuts
- Soy products, including soy burgers, soy milk, and soy cheese
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What Is The Diet Oxalate Goal
Typical diets contain upward of 200 300 mg of oxalate. For stone prevention, a reasonable goal is below 100 mg of oxalate daily. An ideal would be about 50 mg daily if that can be accomplished.
To get there, consider the oxalate contents in common serving portions of all of the foods, and make up a plan for yourself.
Why You Should Avoid Oxalates
Your body naturally gets rid of oxalates, but in high amounts, they can have adverse effects. However, since foods containing oxalates are often nutritious in other ways, you shouldnt remove them from your diet altogether.
Most people get between 200 and 300 milligrams of oxalates daily. If youre at risk for kidney stones, sources suggest consuming less than 100 milligrams a day. Doctors may also recommend low-oxalate diets of less than 50 milligrams daily for some people. Talk to your doctor about what diet is best for your health.
A diet high in oxalates may have some negative effects, including:
Increased Risk of Kidney Stones
Estimates show that 1 in 10 people are affected by kidney stones, though some people are at more risk than others. When oxalate levels are high, theres a greater chance it will bind to calcium, forming kidney stones.
Lower Mineral Absorption
Because oxalates bind to minerals like calcium, they can prevent your body from absorbing beneficial nutrients in your digestive tract . Yet, they dont block absorption completely, and our bodies only use a portion of the nutrients we consume.
Some of the oxalates you consume are broken down in your gut, reducing the amount that passes through your digestive and urinary systems. However, when you take antibiotics, this effect is reduced. Antibiotics decrease the good bacteria in our gut that absorb oxalates, which can enhance their activity.
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Giving Up Oxalates For Good Will Fix The Problem
If you happen to be particularly susceptible to calcium oxalate stones, it may be a good idea to reduce your oxalate intake.
However, there is a downside to this dietary recommendation that is often overlooked. Many high-oxalate foods are also rich in fiber, magnesium, potassium, and phytate, all of which inhibit the occurrence of kidney stones.
Thus, instead of avoiding such healthful sources of nutrients altogether, try to consume them in moderation.
Besides, some people are naturally better at absorbing oxalates than others, and thus such oxalate restrictive diets do not apply uniformly to all.
People with unfavorably high oxalate levels can naturally bring down the amount of oxalate absorption by consuming a high-calcium diet.
If your urine oxalate level continues to be high regardless, ask a dietitian or other health care professional about how strictly you need to avoid oxalate-containing foods.
All in all, eliminating oxalate-rich foods from your diet alone will not prevent calcium oxalate kidney stones from forming and will only give you a false sense of security.
Research suggests that the best way to curb stone formation is to pair high calcium foods with oxalate-rich ones during a meal. This allows the two to bind together in the stomach and intestines before the kidneys begin processing them, making it less likely that kidney stones will form.
High Oxalate Nuts & Seeds
On the flip side, there are some nuts and seeds that are very high in oxalate. If you have high urine oxalate, it is best to avoid these nuts and seeds. Or, eat them only on occasion!
- Almonds dont forget almond butter, flour and milk are high in oxalate too!
- Brazil nuts
- Pine nuts
- Chia seeds
- Sesame seeds
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S For Preventing Kidney Stones
If youve ever had a kidney stone, you surely remember it. The pain can be unbearable, coming in waves until the tiny stone passes through your urinary plumbing and out of the body. For many, kidney stones arent a one-time thing: in about half of people who have had one, another appears within seven years without preventive measures.
Preventing kidney stones isnt complicated, but it does take some determination.
Kidney stones form when certain chemicals become concentrated enough in the urine to form crystals. The crystals grow into larger masses , which can make their way through the urinary tract. If the stone gets stuck somewhere and blocks the flow of urine, it causes pain.
Most stones occur when calcium combines with oxalate. Stones can also form from uric acid, which is a byproduct of protein metabolism.
When Life Hands You Kidney Stones
And as the saying goes, “make lemonade.” It’s important to consider dietary remedies alongside prescription medications.
Next time you drive past a lemonade stand, consider your kidneys. Chronic kidney stones are often treated with an alkali citrate, such as potassium citrate to help prevent certain stones, if urine citrate is low and urine pH levels are too low . Citrus juices do contain citrate , but large amounts might be needed. Also, be careful of sugar. Lemon juice concentrate mixed with water can be considered. Alkali citrate can be prescribed and is available over-the-counter. Alkali citrate can be given with a mineral, such as sodium, potassium or magnesium to help prevent stone formation. The aim is to increase urine citrate and increase urine pH . The goal is to keep pH in balance. Speak with a doctor or other healthcare professional about which treatment options are right for you, including over-the-counter products and home remedies. People with kidney disease may need to watch their intake of sodium, potassium or other minerals, depending on the stage of kidney disease or other factors
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Reduce Intake Of Added Sugar
Sugars, syrups, sucrose, fructose, agave nectar, cane sugar, honey, processed foods, drinks, etc., are generally not good for health, especially in people who are at risk of developing kidney stones.
Lemonade, limeade, and fruit juices are rich in citrate and help prevent kidney stones. But make sure these juices do not have high sugar levels.
We have discussed the common food that can predispose you to develop kidney stones it is equally important to know that few foods are also helpful in preventing kidney stones.
How Can You Treat Them
Minor stones can be treated with pain relievers, medication and some lifestyle changes. Over the counter medications like ibuprofen and naproxen sodium can relieve pain, while alpha blockers can be prescribed to relax your muscles to help pass the kidney stone. Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water is a very effective way of diluting urine and helping to prevent stones from forming. Reducing foods rich in oxalates, sodium, and animal proteins will also help avoid more kidney stones in the future. Though its healthy to get calcium from the food you eat, consult with your doctor when taking calcium supplements, as they can increase your risk of kidney stones.
In the case of larger stones, sound wave treatments that break up larger stones can be used, along with a ureteroscope for removing stones or surgery in severe cases.
Basic steps to avoiding kidney stones include being more careful about dietary habits and staying hydrated. These are things you can do everyday to stay healthy. If you are dealing with symptoms of kidney stones and need help, dont hesitate to make an appointment with Drs. Herman, Kester and Urology Center of Florida for relief today.
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Control Your Diet To Fight Obesity And Diabetes
You may wonder what obesity and diabetes have to do with stones formed in the kidneys. Here are the connections:
- Insulin resistance, a common cause of diabetes, can reduce citrate and increase calcium in urine both risk factors for kidney stones.10
- A higher body mass index , as in the case of obese individuals, has been linked to greater oxalate excretion another risk factor for stones.
So, weight loss driven by a healthy diet not dependent on animal protein and effective management of diabetes may be able to better prevent kidney stones.
Not Enough Fruits And Vegetables On Keto Diets
Perhaps most importantly, keto diets are usually lacking in vegetables. And they are severely lacking in fruit. Fruits and vegetables play many roles for kidney stone prevention. Removing, or severely restricting them, is a likely cause of kidney stones on a keto diet.
Alkali production is a huge benefit of fruits and vegetables for kidney stone prevention. During metabolism of fruits and vegetables, our body produces alkali .
This alkali is a big deal because it helps neutralize acid that is produced in our body from protein metabolism. Excess acid is excreted in our urine. High levels of urine acid makes the most common types of kidney stones more likely.
On a keto diet, the lack of alkali from fruits and vegetables may be exacerbated by acid production from excess protein.
Citrate is a powerful kidney stone inhibitor. It stops kidney stones from forming. Low urine citrate is a risk factor for kidney stones.
Fruit adds a lot of citrate to our diet. Because a keto diet places strict limits on fruit, the lack of citrate may contribute to kidney stones.
Urine potassium is another inhibitor of kidney stones. The more potassium we eat, the more potassium in our urine. Although potassium is found in nearly all foods, fruits and vegetables tend to be a main source of potassium in our diet.
Keto diets may cause low urine potassium due to strict limitation of fruits and vegetables, contributing to kidney stones.
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Calcium Oxalate Kidney Stones
Oxalate is a substance that is naturally found in many foods. Your kidneys flush out waste from the body through urine and if there is excess waste and less urine, oxalate crystals start forming. Excess oxalate can bind with calcium and form crystals in the urine, thereby leading to the development of calcium oxalate kidney stones.
Foods that cause calcium oxalate stones are:
What Is The Oxalate Content Of Walnuts
A serving of 1/4 cup of walnuts contains around 10-25mg of oxalates. This puts walnuts in the group having a moderate amount of oxalates. As a result, walnuts should be avoided by people struggling with a severe form of kidney stones.
However, even though following a low-oxalate diet, most people should be alright with consuming walnuts every once in a while. Dietary oxalate consumption is often divided into four levels: low oxalate, moderate oxalate, high oxalate, and extremely high oxalate.
Walnuts are in the second group, so theyre not completely restricted on this diet. However, walnuts are also high in fat, and its easy to overindulge on them. So make sure to control how much walnuts you consume even if youre not following a low-oxalate diet.
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How To Follow A Low Oxalate Diet
Low oxalate diets involve eating less food thats high in oxalates. Foods high in oxalates include certain types of fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, and legumes.
Although recommendations can vary, most healthcare providers advise limiting oxalate intake to less than 4050 mg per day.
To stay under this limit, your diet should consist primarily of foods like proteins, dairy products, white rice, and low oxalate fruits and vegetables.
Soaking and cooking certain vegetables and legumes can reduce their oxalate content (
In fact, consuming more calcium can help decrease the absorption of oxalate in your body, which could prevent kidney stones from forming .
One 10-person study even found that consuming high amounts of oxalate did not increase the risk of developing calcium oxalate kidney stones when participants were meeting the daily recommended intake for calcium .
However, this study was small, and scientists need to do more research on the topic.
Recommendations suggest aiming for 1,0001,200 mg of calcium per day, which you can find in foods like dairy products, leafy greens, sardines, and seeds .
Here are a few other ways to reduce the risk of calcium oxalate kidney stones:
- Limit salt intake. Studies show that consuming high amounts of salt may be linked to a higher risk of developing kidney stones (
Some people claim that dietary oxalates contribute to autism or vulvodynia, but no evidence shows that oxalate consumption directly causes either condition.
What Are Kidney Stones
A kidney stone normally begins as a small crystal-like material and it gradually builds up into a larger, solid mass. Urine normally contains chemicals that inhibit the crystals from forming. Or, if crystals remain small enough they can travel through the urinary tract and pass out of the body without being noticed. However, when crystals combine together to form a kidney stone, it can stick to the lining of the kidney or settle in an area where urine cannot carry it out of the body.
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Foods To Avoid If You Have Kidney Stones
Obscure, painful, and potentially life-threatening, kidney stones affect 1 in 10 people at some point or the other during their lifetime. The most awful thing about kidney stones, besides the blatant pain, is that they threaten to come back the incidence of recurrence being a whopping 70%.
You need not live in fear anymore. With a little caution and simple dietary changes, you can set aside the anxiousness of recurring stones. If you have kidney stones or youve had them in the past, heres what you can do.
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Who Needs Low Oxalate Nuts
Before we jump into which nuts and seeds are low in oxalate, it is important to know who needs to avoid high oxalate nuts and seeds.
Oxalate is most known for its role in kidney stones. However, not everyone with kidney stones needs to avoid oxalate. It is important to work with your doctor to figure out what kind of kidney stones you have. If you have a kidney stone other than calcium oxalate, avoiding oxalate will not reduce your risk of kidney stones.
If you were not able to have your kidney stone analyzed, a 24-hour urine test will tell you what kind of stones you are most likely to make. The test will also tell you what your kidney stone urine risk factors are.
Even for the same kind of kidney stone, urine risk factors can be different. For example, too much calcium in urine is the most common risk factor for calcium oxalate kidney stones. Other urine risk factors are high urine oxalate, low urine pH, low urine citrate and high urine uric acid. You can target your specific risk factors with nutrition!
If you have high urine oxalate, it is important to follow a low oxalate diet, including low oxalate nuts.
Remember that fluid, sodium, protein, calcium and healthy diet patterns all play very important roles in kidney stone prevention too!
Animal Proteins And Other Purine Sources
Purines are natural compounds found in the body, even in our DNA, and in many foods. They can be broken down into uric acid by our body. So, if we ingest too much purine, urine concentrations of uric acid will spike. Urinary uric acid can settle and form kidney stones.
Animal protein sets the odds in favor of stone formation, lowering citrate excretion and increasing calcium and uric acid excretion. Individuals with a history of recurring kidney stones should limit their daily animal protein intake to 80 gm.8 It is better to avoid:9
- Meat: Beef, chicken, pork, lamb, duck, and so on
- Seafood: Anchovies, crab, fish roes, herring, mackerel, sardines, shrimps, whitebait
- Other sources: Eggs, dairy products , yeast and extracts, beer, asparagus, cauliflower, mushrooms, beans and peas, spinach
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