Kidney stones start as crystals that form when dietary minerals in the urine are too concentrated. Most kidney stones contain calcium and almost any calcium stone former can benefit from three simple dietary interventions:
- Increase fluid intake to produce 2 to 2.5 liters of urine daily
- Restrict protein (beef, fish, pork, poultry) in the diet
- Lower sodium intake to less than 2000 milligrams a day
More specific dietary recommendations can be given after testing of urine and blood shows exactly which mineral levels are abnormal. For example, the most common form of kidney stone is calcium oxalate. These stones can form when the calcium and/or the oxalate levels in the urine are too high. If testing has confirmed a high oxalate level, then a low oxalate diet might be recommended.
It is important, however, not to reduce calcium in the diet too much as that can actually increase kidney stones and might have other bad effects on the body. Calcium stone formers should moderate their calcium intake – not too much, not too little.
Another common cause of kidney stones is having low urinary levels of citrate. Supplementation of this important inhibitor of kidney stone formation can either be through medications or natural sources to replace citrate in your diet.
There are other dietary and medication considerations to prevent kidney stones and using testing of urine and blood can help determine the best treatment for you.