1 in 11 adults in the U.S. will have a kidney stone. This means tens of millions of people going for ER visits, getting CT scans, taking painkillers, and waiting in misery to pass the stone or go to surgery. Here is a brief guide to help you prevent kidney stones.
- Drink Water
Drinking plenty of water is by far the best way to prevent kidney stones. I recommend drinking at least 2.5 Liters of water per day (84 oz., or 10 cups). Plan to drink even more water if you’ll be exercising.
- Consume Citrate
Citrate is a naturally occurring substance in urine that prevents kidney stone formation. You can increase it several ways; add lemon juice to your water (two teaspoons per glass), drink orange juice (50/50 with water to decrease sugar content), or try Crystal Light.
- Watch your Salt
Too much salt in your diet increases your risk of kidney stone formation, not to mention it puts you at risk for heart disease. I recommend following The American Heart Association guideline of no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day and an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg/day for most adults. Cut back on processed foods. Avoid adding salt at the dinner table.
- Calcium – not too little, not too much
Well-intentioned patients sometimes try to prevent kidney stones by reducing calcium in their diet. This actually makes your stones worse. You should consume a normal amount of dietary calcium, which is 1,000 - 1,200 mg/day for most adults. Too much calcium can increase your stone risk, so if you take a multivitamin or calcium supplement be aware of how much you are getting.
- Less Meat
Unfortunately, the medical literature shows that almost all of the popular sources of animal proteins such as fish, poultry, red meat, eggs, and cheese increase the risk of stone formation. Try to limit your daily meat quantity to no bigger than a deck of cards. It’s better for your heart too.
Oxalate is found in urine and promotes stone formation. Oxalate is also found in many of our favorite foods including chocolate, tea, nuts, spinach, beans, and beets. If you’ve had a kidney stone you may need to examine your dietary sources of oxalate and consider reducing them.
Jason Orien, MD is a urologist at Portneuf Medical Center. He specializes in the treatment of kidney stones, cancers of the prostate, kidney, and bladder, enlarged prostate, erectile dysfunction, vasectomy, and women’s health needs including overactive bladder, prolapse, and urine leakage. He is trained in minimally invasive robotic and laparoscopic techniques. To schedule an appointment, please call 208-239-2770.