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Lifestyle Changes to Manage Kidney Stones
by Jean Baker, MS, RD
Your lifestyle plays an active role in the treatment of kidney stones. By making certain lifestyle changes, you may be able to reduce your risk of developing another kidney stone.
One of the goals of kidney stone treatment is to keep your urine as dilute as possible. This helps to keep the substances that could potentially form a kidney stone, such as calcium and oxalate, moving quickly through the urinary tract.
Try to drink at least 2 liters of fluid a day.
A good gauge of whether or not you are drinking enough fluids is urine color. Except for the first thing in the morning, it should be pale in color. If your urine is dark yellow, that's an indication that you should drink more fluids.
If you are hesitant to drink too much during the day because you have a bladder control problem, discuss this concern with your doctor.
Whether or not diet can help you avoid another kidney stone depends on what kind of stone you had and what caused it to form in the first place. If your stone was made up of calcium oxalate, calcium phosphate, or uric acid, what you eat or do not eat can help prevent a recurrence.
Note that these are only guidelines. People taking certain kinds of medications will need to avoid certain foods. Always follow the advice of your doctor or registered dietitian in making any diet changes.
Nutrients to consider include:
Calcium Oxalate or Calcium Phosphate Stones
If your kidney stones contained calcium oxalate, you may also need to avoid certain plant foods that bind with calcium and other minerals. If your body is not absorbing and using calcium correctly, you could end up with too much oxalate in your urine. You can reduce the level of oxalate in your system by avoiding these foods:
Uric Acid Stones
Limit your intake of animal protein from meat, poultry, fish, and eggs. If you have gout, ask your doctor about other dietary restrictions.
Make sure to drink plenty of fluids. This may require more than the 2 liters recommended for other types of kidney stones. Talk to your doctor about how much fluid you need.
When to Contact Your Doctor
Diet and kidney stones. National Kidney Foundation website. Available at: https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/diet. Accessed March 6, 2017.
Kang DE, Sur RL, Haleblian GE, Fitzsimons NJ, Borawski KM, Preminger GM. Long-term lemonade based dietary manipulation in patients with hypocitraturic nephrolithiasis. J Urol. 2007 Apr;177(4):1358-1362.
Kidney stones. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed March 6, 2017.
Nephrolithiasis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114904/Nephrolithiasis. Updated January 15, 2017. Accessed March 6, 2017.
Siener R. Impact of dietary habits on stone incidence. Urol Res. 2006;34(2):131-133.
Last reviewed March 2017 by Adrienne Carmack, MD
Last Updated: 3/15/2015