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Learning About Diet for Kidney Stone Prevention

What are kidney stones?

Kidney stones are small "pebbles" that form in your kidneys. They're made of salts and minerals in the urine.

Stones may not cause a problem as long as they stay in the kidneys. But they can cause sudden, severe pain. Pain is most likely when the stones travel through the ureters (the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder). Kidney stones can cause bloody urine.

Kidney stones often run in families. You are more likely to get them if you don't drink enough fluids, mainly water. Certain foods and drinks and some natural health products may also increase your risk for kidney stones if you consume too much of them.

What can you do to prevent kidney stones?

Changing what you eat may not prevent all types of kidney stones. But for people who have a history of certain kinds of kidney stones, some changes in diet may help. A dietitian can help you set up a meal plan that includes healthy, low-oxalate choices. Here are some general guidelines to get you started.

Plan your meals and snacks around foods that are low in oxalate. These foods include:

  • Corn, kale, parsnips, and squash,.
  • Beef, chicken, pork, turkey, and fish.
  • Milk, butter, cheese, and yogurt.

You can eat certain foods that are medium-high in oxalate, but eat them only once in a while. These foods include:

  • Bread.
  • Brown rice.
  • English muffins.
  • Figs.
  • Popcorn.
  • String beans.
  • Tomatoes.

Limit very high-oxalate foods, including:

  • Black tea.
  • Coffee.
  • Chocolate.
  • Dark green vegetables.
  • Nuts.

Here are some other things you can do to help prevent kidney stones.

  • Drink plenty of fluids. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
  • Do not take more than the recommended daily dose of vitamins C and D.
  • Limit the salt in your diet.
  • Eat a balanced diet that is not too high in protein.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

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