Anyone who has suffered the agonizing pain of kidney stones would probably do most anything to avoid a repeat occurrence. Dietary modification is one of the best ways to do that. Certain foods are known to cause kidney stones and should be avoided by stone patients. Therefore, it is important for patients to devise a kidney stone diet plan with their doctor.
Oxalate is one of the biggest factors in kidney stone formation. According to the Cleveland Clinic, nine foods increase oxalate in the urine and should be avoided. They are beets, spinach, rhubarb, strawberries, nuts, chocolate, tea, wheat bran and all dry beans, whether fresh, canned or cooked. Lima and green beans are allowed, however. Other foods to avoid include anchovies, caviar, asparagus, broth, mussels and organ meats like liver, kidney and brains.
Kidney stone patients should also be mindful of their sodium intake because too much calcium can crystallize in the urine. Patients should limit their sodium intake to 2 g to 3 g per day. A good way to decrease the daily sodium intake is to simply not add salt to food. Use caution with foods like hot dogs, deli meats, sausage, canned food, dry soup mixes, sauerkraut and pickles. Also try to limit salty snack foods.
Too much protein in the diet can also cause kidney stones. Two to three servings of protein a day, or 4 oz. to 6 oz. each day is sufficient, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Foods high in protein include meats, nuts, eggs, soybeans and dairy products. The National Kidney Foundation advises patients to check with their doctor or dietitian to see if they are eating the proper amount of protein when devising a diet.
Doctors formerly advised patients to avoid calcium because so many kidney stones are calcium-based. In fact, four out of five stones are. But experts now say not having enough calcium in the diet can actually form stones. That's because calcium helps bind oxalate to the intestines and keeps it out of the urine. A low-calcium diet can actually increase the risk of kidney stones, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Kidney stone patients are urged to drink 10 to 12 glasses of fluid each day, with about half being water. The idea is to produce two quarts of urine to minimize the formation of calcium and other deposits in the kidneys. The more diluted the urine is, the less likely a stone will form. It is important to drink lots of fluids even after a stone has formed. That's because the increased fluid intake helps flush the stone from the body.