Anyone who has had a kidney stone knows how painful they can be. The small stones, which are actually mineral deposits, are very hard and originate in your kidneys. At more than a million cases in the United States, the ratio of men getting kidney stones is twice as much as women – 12% versus 6%. There are four different kinds of stones, which are uric acid, calcium, cystine and struvites. There are specific foods which cause kidney stones.
Foods That Cause Kidney Stones
Learning which foods cause kidney stones will help prevent you from getting them. Besides, once you get kidney stones you are more susceptible to get them again unless you change your diet.
1. Sodium Rich Food
Foods that are high in salt are considered sodium rich. When you increase your sodium levels, you are forcing your kidneys to excrete extra calcium into your urine. This excess calcium can join phosphorus and oxalate, and form kidney stones.
If you are not sure how much sodium you should consume daily, the recommended daily allowance in the U.S. of sodium is 2,300 milligrams.
Foods that are high in sodium include:
- Fast food
- Canned vegetables and soups
- Hot dogs
- Luncheon meats
- Frozen processed foods
2. Animal Protein Rich Foods
How can proteins, such as meats, fish and eggs, create kidney stones? That’s because they are made up of purines which break apart into uric acid in urine. Citrate helps stop the formation of kidney stones, but animal protein raises the excretion of calcium and cuts down on the excretion of citrate into the urine. So with more uric acid, elevated calcium level and decreased citrate, you chances of kidney stones are increased.
Foods that are high in animal protein that you should limit include beef steak, ham, pork chop, turkey, skim milk, fish, eggs, shellfish, white chicken meat, organ meat (liver) and red meat.
3. Oxalate Rich Foods
One of the last types of foods that cause kidney stones are oxalate rich foods. While the body makes a certain amount of oxalates into your urine, foods rich in oxalate can increase your urinary oxalate levels, which combined with calcium can lead to calcium oxalate stones. Some of these foods include beer, coffee, chocolate, beans, oranges, rhubarb, soy milk, wheat bran, nuts, soda (cola), sweet potatoes, black tea, tofu and spinach.
The Truth About Calcium Rich Foods
You may be surprised that calcium from foods does not cause and, instead, can prevent calcium oxalate kidney stones. In the digestive tract, calcium attaches to oxalates from food and prevents it from getting into the blood stream and the urinary tract where kidney stones are formed. In order to keep from getting calcium oxalate kidney stones and to keep up your bone density, you should have at least 800 mg of calcium in your diet daily.
Foods that are rich in calcium include yogurt and low fat milk, a cup of which has 300 mg of calcium. If you are lactose intolerant, you can use orange juice that has been fortified with calcium or that contains reduced lactose to increase you calcium levels. If you take a calcium supplement, you must take them with foods so that you don’t raise your risk of getting oxalate stones.
Other Factors That Increase Your Risk of Kidney Stones
Besides foods that cause kidney stones there are a few other factors that can make you more susceptible to getting kidney stones. A few of them include:
- Family history: If you have a family member who has had kidney stones, or if you have already had kidney stones, your chances of getting them (again) increase.
- Specific diets: With so many different foods available on the market, stay away from those that are high in sugar, protein and sodium.
- Staying hydrated: If you don’t drink enough water every day, you are at a greater risk of getting kidney stones. If you reside in a warmer part of the country, you must make sure you drink enough fluids.
- Any surgeries related to the digestive process are another factor that can add to your risk of kidney stones. These types of surgeries include those for chronic diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease and even gastric bypass surgery. These surgeries can influence the absorption of water and calcium, which increases the chance of developing kidney stones.
- Being overweight or having a high body mass index (BMI) has been shown to a higher chance of getting kidney stones.
- Medical conditions, such as cystinuria, renal tubular acidosis, hyperparathyroidism, urinary tract infections (UTI) and even some medications can raise your risk.