Kidney Disease Prevention Through Diet

Research recently published in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases states a diet based on the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan is more practical and less restrictive for people who must watch what they eat for the prevention and treatment of kidney stones.

Recommended diets to prevent kidney stones are low in “oxalate” as most kidney stones are formed when oxalate binds to calcium while in the urine. High levels of oxalate are found in many nutritious foods, such as beets, navy beans, bulgur, kale, almonds, sweet potatoes, rice bran, rhubarb and spinach.

According to the study‚Äôs authors, previous recommendations for those with kidney stones follow a low-oxalate diet to reduce one’s chances of forming another stone. However many high-oxalate foods are healthful and a low-oxalate diet can be very restrictive. The DASH diet reflects a more balanced diet and as a result may be easier and more realistic to follow long term.

The DASH diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts, moderate in low-fat dairy and low in animal proteins, refined grains and sweets.

The study involved 41 people who followed either the DASH diet or a low-oxalate diet over the course of eight weeks. On average, participants on the DASH diet reduced their risk for kidney stones by 35 percent. Meanwhile, those who ate a low-oxalate diet reduced their risk by 14 percent.

Combining calcium and oxalate-rich foods in a meal could be more effective than limiting oxalate in preventing kidney stones, the researchers also suggested. When consumed together, oxalate and calcium are more likely to bind in the stomach and intestines and not get absorbed making it less likely that kidney stones will form.

In time for National Kidney Month in March, experts from the National Kidney Foundation offered the following tips to help prevent the formation of kidney stones:

Drink plenty of fluids. Ideally, consume at least 68 ounces daily.

Choose water. Although water is best, water mixed with sugar-free lemon or lime juice is another good option.

Eat fruits and vegetables. It’s also important to limit high-fat dairy, salt and animal protein.

Follow through on treatment. Work with your doctor to come up with a treatment strategy that works for you.