Let’s face it – passing a kidney stone is downright excruciating. Millions of people suffer from this painful condition each year and, unfortunately, there is a 50 percent chance of getting yet another stone within 5 to 10 years. Ouch, you say. What if you could cut your risk of having another stone by changing your diet?
DASH Diet and Kidney Stones
The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, which emphasizes whole grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts and legumes, and low-fat dairy and meat products, has been proven effective for lowering blood pressure. In recent studies, this style of eating has also been shown to reduce the risk of developing kidney stones. In a 2009 study, Harvard Medical School researchers examined the diets of more than 45,000 people, and discovered that those who ate similarly to the DASH recommendation had a markedly lower incidence of kidney stones. In a 2010 study published by the same lead author, the researchers found that people who followed the DASH diet more closely had higher urine volume and higher urine citrate concentration, which are also related to lower kidney stone risks.
Lemonade Therapy for Kidney Stones
When life gives you lemons (such as kidney stones), make lemonade and drink it! Of all the citrus juices, lemon juice has the highest concentration of citrate. Citrate binds with calcium, keeping the calcium from sticking to oxalate to form crystals. Since more than 80 percent of kidney stones are made of calcium oxalate, it makes sense that lemonade therapy (LT) could help prevent the recurrence of kidney stones. Research shows that lemon juice increases the amount of citrate in the urine to levels known to inhibit kidney stones. In 2007, North Carolina researchers demonstrated that drinking four ounces of reconstituted lemon juice in two liters of water per day decreased the rate of stone formation from 1.00 to 0.13 stones per patient. Although LT doesn’t work quite as well as potassium citrate (medical therapy), for patients who’d rather avoid another medication, drinking lemonade is definitely an attractive alternative.
The Bottom Line
The DASH diet is not only proven to reduce blood pressure, it can also help reduce the incidence of kidney stones. In addition, drinking lemonade is a natural way to inhibit kidney stone formation. To make lemonade, try mixing 1 cup of concentrated lemon juice with 7 cups of water. Avoid adding sugar, as most of us do not need the extra calories that sugar brings. If desired, use a sugar substitute instead.
Owennie is a registered dietitian with a soft spot for chocolate and coffee. She is a believer in balance and moderation, and is committed to keeping healthy eating enjoyable and fun. Owennie received her dietetics training in Vancouver, and is a member of Dietitians of Canada and the College of Dietitians of British Columbia. She has experience in a wide variety of settings, such as clinical nutrition, long-term care and outpatient counseling. Owennie has also worked for a community nutrition hotline and participated regularly as a guest radio host, where she enjoyed sharing her passion and knowledge about food and nutrition with people.