Foods that promote kidney health

Designing Your Kidney Stone Diet

Preventing kidney stones may be as simple as changing your diet. If you have a history of kidney stones, you’ll especially want to be aware of how much you drink and what you eat. Here’s a look at what your diet should and shouldn’t include.

What to Include

Water
 
Drinking water is crucial for preventing kidney stones. If you don’t drink enough water, stone-forming chemicals such as calcium, oxalate, urate, cystine, xanthine, and phosphate aren’t eliminated by your kidney. Instead of being removed, they come together to form a stone. 
 
If you’ve had kidney stones in the past, you should increase your fluid consumption so that you urinate two liters—or eight and a half cups—per day. 
 
Magnesium-rich foods
 
Magnesium is important for your body’s absorption and assimilation of calcium. Consuming too much calcium without a sufficient amount of magnesium to combat it can lead to health problems such as kidney stones. Magnesium also helps prevent calcium and oxalate from combining and forming a kidney stone.
 
Foods containing high levels of magnesium include: almonds, pumpkin seeds, certain beans, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and avocados.
 
Calcium-rich foods
 
It used to be commonly thought that individuals with kidney stones should avoid calcium-rich foods because calcium is a main part of most kidney stones. Recent research, however, suggests that a diet high in calcium blocks a chemical action that’s responsible for the formation of kidney stones. 

Calcium-rich foods to eat include: cheese, yogurt, milk, kale, turnips collard greens, and grains. You should consume an amount of calcium that is appropriate for your age. 

However, don’t take calcium supplements, as they may actually increase your chance of kidney stones.  

What to Avoid 

Soda
 
Drinking soda is directly linked to kidney stones because the phosphorus acid in soda acidifies your urine, which promotes the formation of stones. Drink water or fluids that contain citrate instead. 
 
Sugar
 
A diet that’s high in sugar can also cause kidney stones. Sugar interferes with your body’s absorption of magnesium and calcium. Changes in your kidneys—such as size increase—can occur due to a high sugar diet, resulting in the formation of kidney stones.
 
Non-fermented soy products
 
Soy-based foods contain high levels of oxalates. Oxalate combines with calcium in your kidneys to form stones, which is why consumption should be avoided. If you do want to eat soy, look for foods that have fermented soy. 
 
High-sodium foods
 
Calcium is increased in your urine when you have a high-sodium diet. This increase can result in the formation of kidney stones. A good, suggested daily intake is 2,300mg. If you’ve had kidney stones in the past, cut down your daily sodium intake to 1,500mg.
 
Other stone-forming foods
 
If you have kidney stones, your doctor will probably advise that you avoid oxalate-rich foods like beets, chocolate, spinach, rhubarb, tea, and most nuts. 

Last Updated: July 26, 2016