Foods That Could Cause Kidney Stones

Kidney stones — sometimes referred to as renal stones or urinary stones — are small masses made up of minerals and other compounds found in urine that can develop in one or both kidneys (via MedlinePlus). They vary in size and can take days or weeks to pass through the ducts between the kidneys and bladder and be excreted through urination, a process that can cause pain in the abdomen and back. 

The experts at WebMD explain that oftentimes it is the food or drinks you consume that lead to the development of these potentially painful stones. There are several different kinds of kidney stones, so if you've had one before, your doctor should know which type it was and will be able to suggest foods to avoid.

WebMD reports that most people who get kidney stones get what are known as calcium oxalate stones, which form when the calcium in your urine combines with oxalate, a naturally occurring chemical found in many foods, and especially in plants. If you're prone to this type of kidney stone, it is best to avoid plants and plant-based foods with high oxalate levels, such as spinach, almonds, cashews, beets, sweet potatoes, raspberries, and bran cereals. It is also a good idea to avoid foods containing high amounts of sodium, since sodium can produce excess calcium, which can combine with extra oxalate to produce stones (per WebMD).

How to prevent kidney stones

The National Kidney Foundation advises those who have had kidney stones before to consider a special diet plan. The specifics of the plan will depend on results of blood and urine tests to determine your risk factors. You may then want to consult with a registered kidney dietician who can advise on diet and lifestyle changes. As a general rule, however, the National Kidney Foundation strongly advises that you drink plenty of water — at least two to three quarts a day when engaged in intense exercising — to keep kidney stones at bay. Staying hydrated induces frequent urination, which will help prevent the body from building up calcium deposits, as well as uric acid, which can also form into a type of kidney stone.

Experts also caution against overdoing activities that induce heavy sweating, such as hot yoga, vigorous exercise, and frequenting saunas. This is because sweating reduces your amount of urination, which will increase the chances for mineral deposits to settle and form in the kidneys and urinary tract.

Getting three servings of dairy everyday with your meals can also help prevent kidney stones, as the dietary calcium in dairy is more likely to bind with oxalate within the stomach and intestines rather than in the kidneys. Also, avoid taking vitamin C supplements in excess of 1000mg per day, otherwise you could build up additional oxalate. If you are already at risk for kidney stones and need to take vitamin or mineral supplements, check with your doctor first for advice on which ones to avoid based on your risk factors.