Kidney stones can be a painful source of immense discomfort. These stones form as a combination of calcium and oxalate or phosphorous in the urine, or a general buildup of uric acid. No matter the cause, those of us who have experienced the pain of kidney stones want to alleviate the intensity of our symptoms fast!
Here are some recommendations for dietary habits that can be invaluable while cleansing your kidneys from those painful stones!
Drink a lot of Water! We are typically not fond of having a high intake of water because we have to urinate often, but this is exactly what we are going for here. Drinking water actually helps to dilute the substances in urine that lead to kidney stones. Take time to rest if you can and drink at least 12 glasses of water a day. Yes, you'll have to urinate often, but it will be worth it when those stones go away!
Eat or Drink Citrus! The great thing about citrus intake is that it helps reduce and even block the formation of kidney stones due to the citric acid in citrus fruits binding to calcium. Even if you are not a huge citrus fan, you can work the juices into smoothies (like orange juice as a base) or into your cooking (such as squeezing lemon or lime onto your food). You can also make a kidney cleansing citrus blend using fresh-squeezed orange juice and lemon or lime!
Increase Calcium Intake! It may seem counterproductive to increase calcium since it seems that calcium combining with other substances actually is the culprit in causing stones. However, one of the ways we get stones is because of our low calcium intake! Too little calcium in our diets can cause oxalate levels to rise and cause stones! Therefore, we need to eat foods high in calcium such as dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, collard greens), orange juice (extra bonus for kidney health!), soybeans, fortified soy milk, chia seeds, almonds, dried figs, tofu, white beans, sunflower seeds, and sweet potatoes.
Limit or Eliminate Animal Protein! You may have noticed that the above list didn't mention animal products for calcium intake. Animal protein increases levels of uric acid that leads to kidney stones, as well as reducing citrate (the chemical in your urine that helps prevent stones from forming). Whether you'd like to temporarily or permanently reduce your animal protein consumption, it's a good idea to reach for healthy, kidney supporting foods that will help to prevent stones and nourish the kidneys.
Reduce Sodium Intake! We hear about limiting salt intake often due to blood pressure issues, but a high sodium diet can also trigger kidney stones by increasing the amount of calcium in your urine. If you also have high blood pressure, you can help to reduce your BP as well as helping your kidneys heal! Tips for this include reducing or eliminating putting salt on your food, cutting back on high-sodium soups, and reading the labels of what you buy so that you can be sure to obtain low-sodium, kidney supporting foods!
Thankfully, the throbbing, intermittent, and seemingly never-ending pain of kidney stones can be helped with our own choices and decisions to make positive dietary changes. Let's nourish our bodies by taking good care of ourselves and living more pain-free, healthier lives.