Hurdling Kidney Stones With Diet

October 01, 2010

Diet and obesity play strong roles in the development of kidney stones.

Diet and obesity play strong roles in the development of kidney stones. Low fluid intake and high intakes of sodium as well as animal fat and proteins can contribute to kidney stones.

While kidney stones are most common after age 40, they can develop at any age. In fact, recent research showed an increase in kidney stones in children. The study, reported by Reuters Health, showed that kidney stones were diagnosed in South Carolina kids four times as often in 2007 as in 1996, for unclear reasons.

While it is possible that better reporting and treatment options for kidney stones may have contributed to the numbers, there are factors that might lend themselves to the development of kidney stones in children - the increase in childhood obesity and poor nutrition.

Since obesity is a risk factor for kidney stones, the rising rate of childhood obesity in the United States could be at work, complemented by the average American diet. Still, the increasing frequency in kidney stones is certainly not a child-focused issue. The occurrence of kidney stones has been increasing in the United States for more than 30 years. In the late 1970s, 3.2 percent of the population had the stone-forming disease. By the early 1990s, the portion of the population with the disease had increased to more than 5.2 percent.

Each year, people make almost 3 million visits to health-care providers, and more than half a million people go to emergency rooms for kidney stone problems. Kidney stones are a hard mass developed from crystals that separate from the urine within the urinary tract. Kidney stones may contain various combinations of chemicals. The most common type of stone contains calcium in combination with either oxalate or phosphate. These chemicals are part of a person’s normal diet and make up important parts of the body, such as bones and muscles.

Once a person gets more than one stone, other stones are likely to develop. Hydration and a proper diet are the best ways to prevent stone formation. Drinking lemonade made from fresh lemons or lemon juice may help reduce the risk of kidney stone formation. Lemon juice increases the level of citrate in the urine, which in turn prevents the formation of kidney stones.

Additionally, avoiding certain high-oxalate foods* can aid in prevention. Those foods include: rhubarb, spinach, beets, Swiss chard, wheat germ, soybean crackers, peanuts, okra, chocolate, black Indian tea and sweet potatoes. Medium-oxalate foods include: grits, grapes, celery, green pepper, red raspberries, fruitcake, strawberries, marmalade and liver.

*Source of oxalate-rich foods: The Oxalosis and Hyperoxaluria Foundation