Kidney Stone Prevention

There are many factors that can contribute to the development of kidney stones. These include hereditary factors (stones tend to run in families), metabolic disorders (such as intestinal malabsorption or prior bariatric surgery) and dietary factors. Dietary factors are the most modifiable risk factor so it is what we focus on in preventing kidney stones.

The most important dietary factor to prevent kidney stones is hydration. People with kidney stones should drink 3-4 liters of water daily unless they have a medical condition that requires a restriction of daily fluid intake. Having less concentrated urine from staying hydrated prevents crystal deposition that results in kidney stone formation and growth.

In general, eating more fruits and vegetables and less animal protein also reduces the risk of kidney stone development. Adding citrate to your diet also helps prevent crystal formation in the urine. Lemon, lime, orange and melons are rich in citrate. Citrate can also be found in over the counter drinks including crystal light drink packets. If you have recurrent kidney stones and low citrate in the urine, your provider may prescribe a daily citrate supplement (pill) that would be taken 2-3 times per day.

If you form calcium oxalate stones your physician may recommend a low oxalate diet. Oxalate can be found in foods that conventionally are considered healthy but can increase stone formation if you have a history of kidney stones. Foods that are high in oxalate and should be avoided in excess include:

  • Spinach
  • Almonds
  • Soy products
  • Potatoes
  • Beets
  • Navy beans
  • Raspberries
  • Dates

Calcium in the recommended daily amounts is beneficial for preventing kidney stones. Adults should have 1000-1200mg calcium daily. If you take a calcium supplement, take it with meals as it can bind oxalate and lower oxalate absorption (reducing stone risk). If you have kidney stones, avoid excessive vitamin C intake and Vitamin C supplements (such as emergen-C).

If you have issues with kidney stones, our urologists can perform additional urine and blood testing in what is known as a metabolic evaluation. Based on a metabolic evaluation, more specific dietary changes can be recommended and in some instances prescription medications can be recommended to reduce stone formation.