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The pain of kidney stones is said to be worse than labor– but nutrition for kidney stones can help.  Knowing about just a few possible strategies can help you ask key nutrition questions when you talk to your health care providers.

Surface of a kidney stone

Microcrystals cluster together to form a spiky, painful stone. 

Nutrition for kidney stone resolution

Stay hydrated.  The stone precipitates when you start to get dehydrated– and it will grow. 

Ask: How much water should I be drinking each day to help the stone(s) pass?

Use your diet to alter the acidity of your urine.  Depending on the type of kidney stone, having more acidic urine or more alkaline urine can help manage kidney stones growth. Sometimes, drinking orange juice or eating certain foods can help.

Ask: Do I have acidic stones or alkaline stones?  Can I eat or drink anything to help keep them from getting bigger?

Nutrition for kidney stone prevention

Staying hydrated– all the time– helps.  This also means drinking extra with additional heat, exercise, illness, or other factors that might make you sweat or lose more water.

Ask: What are my goals for drinking beverages?  What beverages can I count toward that goal?

Maintain sufficient calcium intake.  At one point, patients were advised to limit calcium intake.  Research has since shown that sufficient calcium intake helps prevent kidney stone formation.

Ask: How much calcium per day do I need?  Can I count supplements?

Limit other compounds.  For example, extra vitamin C, high levels of oxalate, or certain medications can contribute to kidney stones.  Be sure to tell your doctor about everything you take.  

Ask: Should I stop any supplements?  What are my goals for maximum daily intake of [substance]?


Should I stop taking any of my vitamins?


In the future: exciting possible kidney stone treatments on the horizon

Look for more research to help us figure out how to help your microbiome process oxalate, so your kidneys don’t have to.  Early research shows that a particular species of bacteria found in some people’s colon helps remove oxalate through the colon, preventing absorption from the diet into the bloodstream.

Your Future: How to Avoid Kidney Stones

You know kidney stones hurt– so much pain you might end up in the emergency room. And they can lead to dangerous infections.

Taking action. Ask your health care team these questions. Print them now.

You can take steps to avoid that pain– so you can get back to the things that are important to you.

(And, seriously, drink those fluids. All the beverages!)

Resources

Need help with fluid intake? Read this booklet for ideas and then track your intake in the chart.

Want to learn more about oxalate? Read the previous post to learn more about a low oxalate diet and why I think you, as a patient, should be given more information to make informed decisions.

Want to learn more about kidney function and different types of kidney stones? Take a look at the in-depth kidney stone guide available at University of Chicago.

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