How to eat to prevent recurring kidney stones

Incidence of renal calculi or kidney stones is on the rise globally, India included. The reason is possibly due to the changing eating practices, with people consuming more salty foods, and not drinking enough plain water.

It is important to know what kind of stones can occur because the foods to prevent or include will depend on the composition of the stones. There are different kinds of stones. Most common of the stones are composed of calcium oxalate or/and calcium phosphate or uric acid stones.

Check out the following tips to prevent renal stones.

1) Water: This is the best and cheapest thing that prevents all kinds of stone formation. Rule number one is drinking a lot of water throughout the day. You may need to drink two to three litres of water daily to dilute urine thus correcting its pH and preventing the formation of crystals.

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2) Vitamin supplements: If you are prone to kidney stones, consult your doctor before starting vitamin C or D supplements and fish liver oils.

3) Weight loss: Lose weight because overweight people tend to be more prone to kidney stone formation.

Dealing with different types of stones

Calcium oxalate

Avoid sodium: People with recurring calcium oxalate stones should avoid salty or processed foods that contain sodium. Excessive sodium causes increased excretion of calcium which binds with oxalate or phosphate to form stones. Therefore this means using less salt for cooking, not adding salt at the table, avoiding pickles, canned meats, or those packed in brine, salted nuts, fast foods, ready to eat or instant foods, commercial snacks, Chinese food, eating regularly at restaurants, etc.
Avoid calcium supplements: One should also get the recommended calcium intake from natural foods including milk. Some studies suggest that taking calcium as supplement may risk stone formation. Calcium tablets should be taken along with the main meal that may contain oxalate. This will prevent stone formation.
Avoid high oxalate intake: Avoid foods high in oxalate – spinach, raw parsley, lemon peel (in pickles, marmalade), rhubarb, nuts, chocolates and wheat bran have shown to contribute to stone formation. Restrict other high oxalate foods like eggplant, watercress, okra, all greens, beets, sweet potato.
Beverages to avoid: Black tea, instant teas, dark colas and grapefruit juice are best avoided. Lemon and orange juices being citric, are considered preventive for calcium oxalate stones but not for phosphate stones.
Avoid animal protein: Excessive consumption of animal proteins is also known to increase calcium excretion in urine and so if you are prone to kidney stones, then limit meat eating to 3 times a week and try to eat more fruits and vegetables daily.

Uric acid stones

People who have gout are usually prone to uric acid stones. Uric acid stones are formed when excessive animal foods which contain purines are eaten. Avoid organ meats, gravies, stock or soups of meat/chicken or fish, shellfish, mackerel and sardines. Limit intake of meat to not more than 4 ounce, 3 times a week.

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Even if you are on medication, you will still need to follow the diet to prevent kidney stones.

Parvathy R Krishnan

The author is a trained Nutrition & Dietetics expert with over 20 years’ of experience in hospitals like Vijaya Hospital in Chennai and the Armed Forces Hospital and New Mowasat Hospitals in Kuwait. She is presently a member of the Research Society for the Study of Diabetes in India. Parvathy blogs at

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