Diet in patients with kidney stones


Kidney stones are common worldwide due to various etiologic agents such as genetic factors, excessive meat consumption, and most importantly very less water consumption. Kidney stones can be described as calculi made up of calcium, phosphate, pigments, carbonates, etc. In different parts of the kidneys. Age groups earlier were elderly but now all the age groups of paediatric, young adults, middle aged and senior citizens are affected equally. Kidney stones give rise to symptoms like abdomen pain, back ache, abnormal urine output and colour, painful urination, high grade fever, weight loss, weakness, etc. Prevention is by more water consumption, controlling calcium and food with more phosphate, potassium, and sodium. But once the kidney stones are formed there are medical interventions to treat them. There has to be a Strict diet which has to be followed to stop the further worsening of the condition and for better effect of the medical management.

Sometimes, kidney stones happen to go into the ureters. Ureter is the connection between the kidney and the urinary bladder. When stones move to the ureter it is considered as ureteral calculi and which can further lead to abnormal urine collection in the bladder.

To avoid all the complications of kidney stones, its formation should be either prevented or should be treated in diagnosed cases as soon as possible. Diet plays an important role in doing so. Water and diet together contribute to the 90 percent of treatment in a lot of early detected cases.

Water consumption is the major remedy for kidney stones.

  • Depending on the size of the stone the treatment is planned. If the stone is in smaller size between a few five to six millimetres, consumption of excessive water can cure the condition. 
  • Drinking more water helps in reducing the size of the calculi by weathering it.
  • Additional ingredients in water can be helpful too. Add lemon juice to the water, add basil to the water, mint leaves, etc. Can be added to the water.
  • Increase the intake of water by 4-6 glasses or about 1.5 litres than the usual.
  • Chances of stone formation are more in summer due to dehydration, so remember to drink more fluids when the weather is hot and when you sweat a lot.
  • Fluids do not mean soda, carbonated drinks. They are not good for your kidneys.
  • Water should be properly boiled and cooled. The filtration should be adequate to avoid any other complications.
  • Water is always an adjuvant in any type of treatment of renal stones.
  • Drink water every half an hour and keep checking the colour of the urine. Dark yellow indicates the shortage of water in your body.
  • The addition of salt, sugar, vinegar, colouring agents, artificial flavours in water should first be asked and verified by your doctor.
  • Old aged patients, patients with hypertension should drink water in a controlled manner. Excessive water increases blood volume causing increased cardiovascular risks.
  • Keep a track of the intake and keep updating your doctor about it.

What foods to avoid in kidney stones?

Food containing excess sodium, potassium should be avoided. Also, protein in the diet has to be controlled. Food with oxalates, carbonates has to be stopped. The list of things you should not eat are as follows:

  • Spinach should be avoided as it has oxalate in it. Oxalate is difficult to clear off in the kidney. In already existing kidney stones, oxalate input has proved to worsen the condition.
  • Tomatoes are bad for this condition. Avoid tomato in every form, especially uncooked or boiled form.
  • Nuts, dry fruits like cashew, almond, raisins, avocado, pista, dried figs are rich in oxalates and potassium. Avoid the usage of it in every manner.
  • Avoid fruits like strawberry, blueberry, blackberry.
  • Avoid parsley, okra, potatoes in your diet.
  • Chocolates give kidneys a hard time. Avoid those in calculi cases.
  • Meat, pork, beef, fish, and seafood have a lot of capacity to worsen this condition. Avoid animal protein completely.
  • Gravy containing animal meat, shellfish, and organ meat should be avoided. It contains a high amount of protein and minerals.
  • Drinking tea in large quantities is bad for your kidney stones. It should be consumed under control.
  • Avoid oily foods like deep fried snacks, Indian delicacies like Puri, samosa, bhaji, etc.
  • Avoid foods that are ready to eat available in the shop. It contains a high level of sodium and preservatives which has a bad effect on your kidneys.
  • No carbonated beverages should be consumed and alcohol should be strictly prohibited.

What foods to eat with kidney stones?

  • Milk, cheese, yoghurt, paneer, and other dairy products are good for this condition. It is a myth that dairy products are bad for this condition.
  • Lemon, orange, watermelon, pear, papaya, apple are fruits that are good.
  • Whole grains can be eaten.
  • Vegetables can be eaten such as cucumber, peas, beans, etc.
  • Rice, Dal can be eaten.
  • Low fat foods should be eaten.
  • Low-sodium foods are better for this condition.

What are the healthy and delicious drinks for patients with kidney stones?

  • Lemonade: citric acid is the best substance that dilutes the calcium oxalate crystals or stones. Hence, squeezing half a lemon in 400-500ml of water with a pinch of salt, sugar, ginger is a great way of staying hydrated and to help reduce the size of the stone.
  • Orange juice: fresh orange pulp contains citric acid too. So making orange juice and drinking it fresh has a good effect on your kidneys.
  • Apple cider vinegar is an ingredient that has been shown to have benefited these patients. Adding apple cider vinegar to water and consuming it as directed by your dietitian can have a positive effect.
  • Apple juice: apple contains less sodium so it is a tasty and healthy option to gain nutrition and help dilute kidney stones.
  • Basil juice: basil has healing properties and is considered sacred in India. As it is easily available in everybody’s home, basil leaves can be added to water and consumed. It can be grinded and added to the water or leaves can be suspended in less amount of water for a few hours and then consumed.
  • Coconut water: it is the best hydrating agent. This is approved for kidney stone patients.

Indian food for kidney stone patients to eat.

  • Upma: it contains Rava or semolina cooked in water with finely chopped carrots, cabbage, peas, and other vegetables of choice. It is healthy and properly digested. It can be eaten as breakfast or evening snacks.
  • Poha: rice flakes are soaked in water for 15-20 minutes. It is then cooked with green vegetables suitable for you.
  • Raagi dosa or ragi porridge: ragi is cooked in water and it can be consumed by adding buttermilk or milk to it.
  • Idli and dosa: fermented Indian breakfast dishes which are eaten with chutney and sambar are a good option. 
  • Rice and Dal: this can be a simple lunch or dinner recipe. It should be served fresh to the patient.
  • Salad: cucumber, carrots, lettuce can be used.
  • Millet porridge.
  • Chapati made of wheat or bajra flour can be eaten.
  • Vegetables can be cooked with less oil and spices.
  • Buttermilk, milk should be consumed frequently.

What dietary foods promote kidney stone formation?

  • Eating food that contains preservatives such as chips, sodas, fries, etc. If a person eats food that is not home cooked or is packaged in nature for a long period of time, he or she is very much likely to develop Kidney stones in later years of life.
  • A person who drinks less water below 1 litre daily is at a higher risk of developing this condition.
  • Red meat. This contains a high level of sodium, proteins, and fats. It requires a lot of body energy to get digested. The clearance of calcium and oxalate is hampered in kidneys and thus leads to stone formation.
  • Spinach is a bad option as it has more oxalates in it.
  • Alcohol. It promotes kidney stone formation.

Diet plan for patients with Kidney stones.

Even if you eat the recommended food and avoid the foods which are bad, it is equally important to have your meal at the proper interval. Quantity of the food consumption in a single meal is equally important. Here are a few tips for better results, they are as follows:

  • Have a total of 3-4 meals per day.
  • Do not overeat and skip a meal.
  • Keep your stomach moderately full.
  • Each meal should have liquids in it. For instance, buttermilk, lemon juice, and milk should be a post meal intake.
  • Apart from the liquids you consume in your meal, water should be consumed separately and in abundance.
  • Have a comparatively heavy breakfast and light dinner.
  • Intervals between the two meals should not exceed 5 hours apart from the night.
  • Sleep should be adequate and sound.
  • Keep a track of your calorie intake each day along with your water record.
  • Bland food may be hard to eat but you can always add interesting fluids as mentioned earlier to activate your taste buds!
  • Your diet should be balanced with a medium amount of protein, adequate calcium, a low amount of sodium, a lot of water, and other electrolytic agents.
  • Cook in less oil, prepare your food fresh, avoid eating at restaurants and carry a home packed meal to work.

Diet depends upon the types of kidney stones.

  • Calcium stones are the most common stones bound with oxalate as discussed in detail earlier. There are other types of stones in kidneys such as:
  • Uric acid stones: uric acid is the end product of purine metabolism. Purine is present in meat. Organ meat to be precise. Hence, avoid animal protein such as chicken, mutton, beef, pork, etc. 
  • Struvite stones: these types of stones are formed as a secondary response to urinary tract infections. Recurrent urinary tract infections of the upper region. These stones are not very frequently found. Antioxidants like basil, mint are preferred. Less spices should be used in foods. Hygiene should be maintained to avoid urinary tract infections. Immunosuppressive agents should be reconsidered after consulting your doctor.
  • Cystine stone: these are of genetic type. With a familial history, cystine stones are found. It is uncommon. Also, it is difficult to prevent or treat as it has a hereditary component. Preventive or delaying measures should be taken as by drinking sufficient water, eating fresh food, avoiding meat, sodium, and junk food. 

What along with diet should be taken into consideration so as to enhance the recovery?

  • In Medium and large size stones, medications are advised. Taking them on time and modifying the diet as required is important.
  • Daily walking, jogging, stretching, yoga is the must to reduce pain and to speed up the effect of the medicine.
  • A better lifestyle should be adopted which includes less stress, a healthy diet, and adequate sleep.
  • In case of surgery, maintain splinting, lung hygiene, and early mobility.
  • Abusive drugs, alcohol, tobacco are strictly prohibited.
  • Diabetes mellitus is common in patients with Kidney stones. Control your glucose and sucrose levels in the blood.
  • Blood pressure has to be controlled by medicines and lifestyle changes.

Effect of following the dietary plan in renal stones.

  • The calculi do not grow any more in maximum cases.
  • The size of the stone reduces considerably in a given time period.
  • Pain and other symptoms subside.
  • No need of taking other medicines, injections, and costly treatment.
  • The need for Surgery can be totally eliminated in mild and moderate cases.
  • The patient gains strength and goes back to his or her normal life routine.
  • The risk of reoccurrence of this condition reduces.
  • This method is easy and does not require any special skills.
  • Members of the family or patient himself or herself can cook as per the suggestions.
  • This method of curing renal stones has no drawbacks.
  • Dietary plans are the cheapest and reliable option.
  • No side effects and only beneficial effects are seen.
  • Overall wellbeing is assured.
  • Patients can stay away from painful and expensive interventions.
  • Secondary complications are cured too.
  • Mental and financial stability is maintained.