Skip to main content

Preventing Kidney Stones

Over the years I have had a number of patients with painful kidney stones and once they have passed (or been removed) I have felt at a loss to helping them prevent them.  "Stay hydrated" somehow didn't seem adequate, although we know fluid intake can help stave off recurrent kidney stone attacks.  Some textbooks said "avoid calcium"  since most stones are made of calcium oxylate.  High oxylate levels can be found in some fruits and vegetables, as well as in nuts and chocolate.  Yet there was no real scientific evidence that these foods caused stones.  The evidence for who got kidney stones was all over the ballpark and for a physician, that means no prevention advice is really proven.

A new study published in Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology says that calcium rich foods - such as low-fat milk and yogurt-can be protective.  What?  Eat more calcium to prevent calcium containing stones?  It seems that higher intakes of calcium are actually associated with a reduction in kidney stone risk.

Dietary calcium binds with oxalate, which is a  waste product in the digestive system.  The two substances crystallize and leave the body long before there is a chance to form a kidney stone.

Dr. Eric Taylor, a renal specialist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, analyzed the diets of 3,426 people over a long period of time.   He found people with higher intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes, low-fat dairy and whole grains were less likely to develop kidney stones by 40-45%.  This is the DASH diet, which is similar to a Mediterranean-style diet, that is the most effective diet for people with high blood pressure.

Like so many things in the body, it is likely a number of factors that intertwine to cause a disorder.  But it is always reassuring to find preventative recommendations that we know are healthy and that might prevent a number of problems.  Since both hypertension and kidney stones are more prevalent in men over age 40, the DASH diet might be the answer.


Mark S said…
I had a kidney stone once and it was the most painful experience. I was told to avoid calcium and alcohol and high protein. It was always confusing for me to know exactly what that meant. This makes sense and these guidelines are easier to adhere to. Thanks for a great blog and subjects.
Therese said…
My sister had ESWL procedure after a very painful experience with kidney stone. She was told to avoid or eat in moderation nuts,chocolates and protein rich foods since she is already a stone former. Our only question is how long does a kidney stone to form again? Thanks for your informative blog. hope that you discuss something about renal cyst because i got 1 and my doctor said it's nothing to worry about.
KM said…
Do you think someone with a kidney transplant has a higher or lower risk of getting stones, or no difference?
healy said…
I hate it, it's very painful and I suffer a lot. But now I always Drink plenty of fluids - one study has shown that people who drink more than 2 1/2 liters of water every day have almost a 40 percent decrease in the risk of developing a stone than those who drank less water.
Toni Brayer, MD said…
KM: There is no data that kidney transplant affects risk of stones.
Stella said…
Nice post. Keep it up

Popular posts from this blog

scintillating scotoma

image from myaspiebrain Nothing like experiencing a medical condition first-hand to really help a doctor understand it from the patient's point of view.  After all these years, I had my first (and hopefully last) scintillating scotoma while sitting on the couch playing "words with friends" on my ipad and watching TV.  A scotoma is a partial loss of vision in a normal visual field.  Scintillate is flashing, sparkles.  Put them together and you have moving, flashing sparkles with a blind spot in your eyes. This visual aura was first described in the 19th century  by a Dr. Hubert Airy who had migraine headaches.  The visual sparks and flashes are in a zig-zag pattern and they can precede a migraine headache or occur without any pain.   The scotoma affects both eyes and closing one or the other does not make it go away.  Sometimes the term "ocular migraine" or "retinal migraine"  are used to describe this phenomenon but these involve only one eye, not

Do Doctors Make Too Much Money?

An article in the New York Times says the reason health care costs are so high in the United States is because doctors are paid too much. I saw that and my eyes bugged out. I just came home from a meeting with physicians and hospital administrators and the entire meeting was spent discussing the financial challenges physicians face in keeping their doors open to see patients. The goal of this meeting was to keep health services in that community so patients will have someone to care for them. Not a person in the room would agree that the doctors earn too much. Physicians paid too much? Lets break that down. A doctor spends a minimum of 11 years in education and training after the age of 18. Many are in training for 15 or more years. They are living on student loans and contributing zero to their family's income until the residency years. At that time they earn less than minimum wage if you factor in the 80-100 hour workweek. When a doctor emerges from training (and believe

Spots on the Scrotum

The answer to yesterday's Image Challenge was #2 - Fordyce's angiokeratomas. Like many unusual medical names, the condition was first described by John Addison Fordyce in 1896. These tiny blood vessels (capillaries) are under the superficial dermis and can be found on both men and women in the scrotum and vulva area.  They are painless and appear in the 2nd and third decade and may continue to appear as the person ages. Fordyce's angiokeratomas should not be confused with warts, herpes or other conditions.  They are completely benign and require no treatment. There are a number of chat rooms on-line where men are concerned about these lesions and want them removed by laser.  That can be an expensive and time consuming treatment and there is no guarantee that they will not recur.   The best treatment is awareness and acceptance that every body is varied and Fordyce angiokeratoma is just another appearance. Thanks everyone for your guesses and great diagnostic a