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The main function of the kidneys is detoxification of the blood and excretion of the liquid waste from your body. During this process, waste material may sometimes form crystals that clump together to form a solid mass. These are known as kidney stones. Kidney stones are small clusters of mineral deposits present on the inner lining of the kidneys. These stones although developing in the kidneys can be traced anywhere in the urinary tract.

Pain occurring due to kidney stones is often expressed as one of the most painful experiences comparable to that of pain during childbirth. Kidney stones are made of calcium oxalates but may be formed of several other minerals.

There are certain foods and flavour enhancers that may cause these deposits to build up in the kidney. These foods may include animal proteins, foods with high salt, sugars or the foods specific to the type of kidney stone formed such as high purine diet in case of uric acid stones.

So, there is always a diet you can follow to keep kidney stones at bay and to reduce the severity of pain.

But before we even go out for foods, water is the first thing one needs to consider. You need to drink 2 to 3 litres of water each day, in addition to the other liquids you are taking.

  1. How to tell if you have kidney stones
  2. Foods to avoid if you have kidney stones
  3. Foods to eat if you have kidney stones
  4. Takeaway for kidney stones diet

Kidney stones, at times, may be so small that they are easily passed through the urine without experiencing any symptoms. However, when the stones move into the ureter, a bunch of symptoms may be experienced:

  • Unbearable radiating pain in the area of the groin
  • Blood passed with urine or haematuria
  • Nausea or vomiting (Read more: nausea and vomiting treatment)
  • Pus or white blood cells in urine
  • Less amount of urine passed
  • Burning sensation when urinating (Read more: urinary tract infection)
  • Persistent urge to urinate
  • Fever and chills in case of infection

Although, there are various treatments available for kidney stones that include surgical procedures such as lithotripsy, ureteroscopy or open surgery and medications like pain relievers, antibiotics and muscle relaxants, taking care of your lifestyle and diet is essential.

When you have kidney stones, you should avoid few foods rich in animal protein or the foods high in oxalates such as spinach, meat, chocolates or soybeans. If you eat these foods, it can make you more prone to get the stones or increase the stone size which can further deteriorate your issue. 

Avoid high sodium diet if you have kidney stones

Sodium regulates the formation of kidney stones, therefore adds to crystal deposition if taken in high amounts. Salt that we add in all our food items contains sodium, so you should try to avoid a high intake of salt. also, taking more sodium diet increases the chances of finding more calcium in your urine, which in turn triggers the formation of kidney stones. 

A study conducted by the University of Texas demonstrated the crystallization of calcium salts occurred with a high sodium diet intake.

Salted nuts, chillies, canned beans etc should, therefore, be avoided. 

Avoid animal protein for kidney stones

Purine-rich diets (meat, fish and poultry) may influence the formation of kidney stones, as per the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. According to them, high animal protein triggers calcium oxalate (calcium stones) formation in the kidneys. Ingestion of these foods along with inadequate intake of fluids increases the risk of stone formation. You may consider plant proteins instead of animal proteins if you have kidney stones.

Avoid chocolate if you have kidney stones

Chocolates being rich in oxalates stimulate the formation of calcium oxalates in the kidney. As oxalate is a metabolic end product and is passed unaltered in the urine, nutritionists suggest a low-oxalate diet to patients with calcium oxalate stones in kidneys. Moreover, chocolates have high amounts of potassium and phosphorous that are not recommended for patients with kidney diseases. Hence, you should avoid having chocolates if you suffer from kidney stones.

Avoid soybeans if you have kidney stones

Soybeans being rich in oxalates lead to kidney stone formation if an inadequate amount of fluids or calcium are consumed. A study investigated the effect of avoidance of soybean and its products in patients with kidney stones. It was found that there was a significant decrease in urinary oxalate, which gives reason enough to avoid this food.

Avoid spinach if you have kidney stones

Spinach although a very good source of proteins, vitamins, minerals, fibre and water is also rich in oxalates, which when consumed bind to the calcium and influence the growth of calcium oxalate stones. This may increase urinary oxalate excretion. Furthermore, spinach being an alkaline food increases the urinary pH and may add to stone problems.

Avoid beets if you have kidney stones

Beetroot is rich in oxalate that causes kidney stones. So if you already have kidney stones, you shouldn't be taking beets at all, as it may cause your urine oxalates to get excreted and calcium oxalates to get increased and aggravate the problem. You should also refrain yourself from having beet juice. Instead, you may have other juice to lower blood pressure and cholesterol if you are consuming it for these problems. 

Avoid peanuts if you have kidney stones

Peanuts are rich in oxalate content. Research has reported the deposition of calcium oxalates stones induced by high intake of peanuts. High intake of peanuts has also been reported to have led to kidney damage. A few studies are have also described peanuts taken along with binge drinking to cause oxalate nephropathy (damage of the kidney resulting in kidney failure). 

Avoid legumes if you have kidney stones

Legumes, lentils or daal are although a great food for the heart and diabetic patients but lentils also contain phytates (antioxidant compounds that bind to minerals like iron or zinc and less of calcium and slow their absorption), potassium, phosphorous, purines and oxalates that support the stone formation in kidneys. One serving of lentils is known to provide 50 milligrams of oxalate, which is not recommended to a person susceptible to kidney stones. 

Avoid wheat bran if you have kidney stones

Wheat bran is rich in oxalates, hence should be avoided if you have kidney stones. A high oxalate found in urine raises your risk for getting stones more than high calcium found in the urine. Research has also shown that foods rich in oxalates increases stone formation in the kidneys. Instead, you can opt for oat bran flakes in your diet. 

Avoid carbonated drinks if you have kidney stones

Although fluids are said to be extremely important for those who have kidney stones, it is more important to consume the right ones. Research shows that soda drinks such as colas contain phosphoric acid, which enhances your risk of kidney stone formation. Therefore, you should avoid soda drinks to help reduce the recurrence of stones.

When you have kidney stones, it is important to know what foods you should eat to get rid of them. For instance, you should be taking foods rich in Vitamin C, acetic acid or citric acid or the foods that are diuretic. these foods help the kidney stones to get dissolved and pass through the urine.

Lemon for kidney stones

Lemons are highly rich in Vitamin C or citric acid. Citrate, a salt present in the citric acid, binds to calcium deposits and benefits by blocking the stone formation.  A study suggests that citrate may prevent the aggregation of bigger crystals from the small crystals already present. Mix 3 spoons of lemon juice with water to total 1 litre. Include this in your total fluid intake. This may help increase citrate in urine and lower the risk of forming kidney stones

Read more: Benefits of lemon

Radish juice for kidney stones

Radish juice is rich in Vitamin A, B, C, iron, phosphorous, digestive enzymes and fibre. Its use in detoxification of the body and treating kidney stones has been recognised. A study conducted to determine the effect of radish on the kidney stones found that kidney stones start to dissolve as urine oxalate levels drop. An increase in radish consumption increased the excretion of calcium oxalates, facilitating the removal of stones.

Read more: iron deficiency symptoms

Apple cider vinegar for kidney stones

The acetic and citric acid found in apple cider vinegar helps to soften, dissolve or break down the kidney stones. Research has shown that increased consumption of ACV led to the lesser risk of kidney stones. Another study conducted in 2014 demonstrated that the use of apple vinegar reduced oxidative stress and lipid levels in kidneys. This proves its benefits in dissolving and preventing of kidney stones.

Nettle leaf for kidney stones

Nettle leaf or bichu buti is a good source of vitamins A, C and E. Being rich in proteins, calcium, folic acid, flavonoids, saponins and polysaccharides, these leaves help to dissolve kidney stones. A study has shown that treatment with nettle leaves reduced calcium oxalate crystal deposits and kidney damage by the dissolution and maintenance of the urinary pH.

Pomegranate for kidney stones

Pomegranate juice is highly rich in antioxidants such as ascorbic acid and polyphenolic flavonoids. These qualities of pomegranate help to lower acidic levels and improve the overall kidney function. A study conducted in 2008 demonstrated the protective effects of pomegranate juice against crystal deposition in kidney tubes. Another in-vivo study in 2009 found that there was reduced crystal formation owing to the oxidative activities of pomegranate juice.

Tulsi for kidney stones

Tulsi or holy basil, which is a common herb used in most Indian kitchens, contains a good amount of acetic acid known to help dissolve the kidney stones. Besides, tulsi leaves have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties which make it a good choice to maintain kidney health. Researchers have shown that tulsi extract is helpful in the disintegration of the kidney stones.

Watermelon for kidney stones

Watermelon is rich in potassium that helps in maintaining the urine acidic levels. Besides, watermelon has high amounts of water that help in flushing out toxins and in removing kidney stones and crystals. One study mentioned watermelon as a natural source of dietary citrate, which brings down the urine citrate levels reducing oxidative stress in kidneys.

Coriander for kidney stones

Coriander or dhaniya is rich in phytonutrients and is known for its antioxidant activity. It is a natural diuretic and helps in naturally cleansing the kidneys and in dissolving of kidney stones. According to Ayurveda, coriander juice has a diuretic property and is effective in the disintegration of kidney, gall and urinary tract stones.

Aloe vera for kidney stones

Aloe vera has much potential in treating kidney stones. The citrate and tartare present in aloe vera gel make it ideal for preventing and dissolving calcium oxalate crystals in the kidney, as evidenced by various researchers.

Although, according to the National Institute of Health, aloe vera is hard on kidneys and may lead to kidney disease. So, you should always consult your doctor before taking any such remedy.

Baking soda for kidney stones

Baking soda brings down the acidic levels, which helps to dissolve kidney stones that block renal tubes. It helps to maintain the pH balance and prevent further crystal formation. A study in 2013 established that sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) can be an effective treatment against kidney stone formation.  

If you have kidney stones, besides taking medicines as directed by your physician, taking care of the foods to eat and avoid can help deal with kidney stones and pain they cause. Avoiding foods rich in animal protein and oxalates is recommended. Eating foods rich in Vitamin C, antioxidants and high water content help. Additionally, drinking plenty of water will help dilute uric acid, preventing kidney stones.

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References

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  2. Rebecca Phillips et al. Citrate salts for preventing and treating calcium containing kidney stones in adults. Cochrane library [Internet]
  3. Kumar A. Influence of radish consumption on urinary calcium oxalate excretion. Nepal Med Coll J. 2004 Jun;6(1):41-4. PMID: 15449653
  4. Guohua Zeng et al. Prevalence of kidney stones in China: an ultrasonography based cross‐sectional study. BJU International [Internet]
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  9. Prezioso D et al. Dietary treatment of urinary risk factors for renal stone formation. A review of CLU Working Group. Arch Ital Urol Androl. 2015 Jul 7;87(2):105-20. PMID: 26150027
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