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What is the role of diet in the prevention of kidney stones?

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Kidney Stones Diet | Kidney Stones Treatment in Bellandur | Nelivigi Multispeciality Hospital
Kidney Stones Diet | Kidney Stones Treatment in Bellandur | Nelivigi Multispeciality Hospital

Kidney Stones Treatment in Bellandur | Nelivigi Multispeciality Hospital

This is the most common question asked by patients with kidney stones. The common perception among people is that specialised diet can prevent stones. However the reality is far more complex. There is no particular diet that can prevent the formation of kidney stones. Diet plays a role only when a person consumes food that is overly excessive or severely deficient in some nutrients. For example, a diet severely deficient in calcium may cause calcium stones. This is because a calcium deficient diet increases the absorption of oxalate that leads to stone formation. At the other end of the spectrum, calcium supplements may increase the risk of stone formation especially when these supplements are taken at a separate time from the main meals.

A common question asked is whether a patient with stones should cut down on the consumption of milk and other dairy products like cheese, curds and paneer. All these foods contain calcium and there is no need to cut down on these foods for the reason we discussed earlier.

A diet with excessive animal protein content especially red meat predisposes to the formation of renal calculi. However we must also keep in mind that in a typical Indian diet, such huge consumption of meat is not seen. It is more seen in the Western countries where animal protein is consumed in large quantities. Therefore we hardly advice any patient to restrict their meat consumption.

Another uncommon cause for stone formation is excessive consumption of salt in the diet. The culprit in salt is sodium which is a risk factor for stone formation. Our daily consumption of salt should be less than 5 grams which is about a teaspoon and the daily sodium intake should be less than 1500 mg. People consuming processed and readymade foods are likely to exceed this limit because these foods contain ingredients like Mono Sodium Glutamate which are high in sodium. We should be aware that 70% of our excess daily sodium comes from such processed or junk food rather than from our kitchen sources like table salt or pickles!

Vitamin C: Citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, Kiwi fruits etc. contain rich quantity of vitamin C which has a role in prevention of stone formation. Therefore one should consume these fruits especially in raw form. One can also take vitamin C supplements in the form of tablets so that daily consumption is about 500 mg.

Beer: Many people feel that beer is good for kidney stones. Those who like to drink beer want to believe in the medicinal properties of beer! Is there any truth in this? Beer is a diuretic which means it increases urine output immediately after consuming it. This lasts for a few hours. Such increased output over a short time is helpful in flushing out small stones from the ureter. However, there is no guarantee that the stone is flushed out in a day or two which means the beer consumption has to be maintained for days or even weeks. This has health hazards which outweight any benefit. Moreover, stones in the kidney cannot be flushed out by this technique. So urologists do not advise beer consumption as a therapy for stones.

Water intake: This is the most important ingredient that can prevent the formation of stones. Stones form whenever there is excessive concentration of calcium and oxalate in urine which occurs with dehydration. A high water intake helps in diluting urine so that supersaturation of urine with calcium and oxalate doesn’t occur. High water intake also helps in washing out the crystals in their initial phase itself before they conglomerate into stones. Therefore it is important to ensure adequate water intake so that urine output of about 2 litres per day is ensured.

So to summaries the role of diet in kidney stones, there is no specific or special diet that can prevent the formation of kidney stones. A moderate diet with adequate water intake should be followed. The bad news is that despite this, there is a significant risk of recurrence of stones in anyone with a stone.

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