The Popular Breakfast Food That Can Help Prevent Kidney Stones

They say eating a heart-healthy breakfast is one of the best ways to kick off your day. But there's also such a thing as a urinary-tract-healthy breakfast. Said to support the health of our gut microbiome, adding a cup of yogurt to your morning breakfast may help protect you from the discomfort of kidney stones.

These hardened chemical deposits land over half a million people in the hospital annually, reports the National Kidney Foundation. Although there are different kinds of kidney stones, most people develop calcium oxalate kidney stones, which can form when a person isn't getting enough water and calcium in their diet. While smaller kidney stones may pass naturally with no problems, a person with a larger kidney stone may experience foul-smelling urine, bloody urine, severe pain on the sides of their lower back, nausea, vomiting, or more. Kidney stones can make a person more vulnerable to chronic kidney disease down the line, but certain dietary choices may help prevent their formation in the first place. Enter yogurt.

How plain yogurt may help prevent kidney stones

For individuals who are considered at high risk for calcium oxalate stones, experts at the Dr. KM Cherian Institute of Medical Sciences suggest getting 800 milligrams (mg) of calcium daily through dietary sources to maintain optimal kidney health. Some experts, however, suggest a higher intake, with the National Kidney Foundation advising a person to get between 1,000 and 1,200 mg of calcium each day. Talk to your doctor about calcium intake if you are concerned about kidney stones.

Yet what experts do seem to agree on is that eating yogurt is a great way to meet your daily calcium needs. Bear in mind, however, that some types of yogurt are better for our health than others. Ideally, you want to opt for plain yogurt over flavored yogurt products. Plain yogurt has minimal sodium and is high in calcium, while flavored yogurt tends to be packed with added sugar, which can be detrimental to the health of our kidneys. What's more, Greek yogurt may be an even better choice than regular yogurt.

Can plant-based yogurt protect against kidney stones?

With more and more people turning to plant-based dairy alternatives, researchers from a 2022 study published in The Journal of Urology set out to see which kinds of plant-based yogurts would most benefit people with kidney stones and/or chronic kidney disease (CKD). The research findings showed that calcium-fortified soy, oat, and coconut-based yogurts may be better suited for patients with kidney issues due to their lower oxalate content. Almond milk yogurts and cashew-based yogurts, however, contain greater amounts of oxalate, potentially making them a poor choice for people with kidney problems, the researchers determined.

Not all high-oxalate foods need to be avoided, however. The National Kidney Foundation says that combining high-oxalate foods with high-calcium foods actually reduces the chances of kidney stone formation. Of course, yogurt may be one calcium-rich breakfast option, but it's certainly not the only one. Much like "an apple a day keeps the doctor away," experts state that three servings of dairy a day may help keep unwanted kidney stones at bay.