Kidney stones are one of the more painful conditions a patient can experience. Some people liken the spasmodic pain of kidney stones to the discomfort of childbirth. Not surprisingly, most kidney stone sufferers will go out of their way to avoid another encounter with kidney stones. One of the best ways to lower the risk is through diet and lifestyle changes. Drinking more water is one strategy to prevent kidney stones – but what about diet? A new study shows that a DASH diet may be best for keeping kidney stones at bay.
What is a DASH Diet?
The DASH diet is an eating plan that doctors frequently recommend to people who have hypertension. It has some characteristics in common with the Mediterranean diet – being rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains foods, and low-fat dairy products – with a de-emphasis on red meat, processed foods, foods high in fat, and foods sweetened with sugar. The DASH diet is effective for lowering systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and it may be helpful for preventing kidney stones too.
A DASH Diet to Prevent Kidney Stones?
In a study involving 3426 adults, some healthy and some with a history of kidney stones, researchers assessed how closely they followed a DASH diet and monitored their urine for variables associated with kidney stone development.
What did they find? Adults who most closely followed a DASH diet reduced their risk of kidney stones by as much as 45% – even after other factors were taken into account. They also had higher concentrations of citrate, a compound that helps to prevent the formation of kidney stones. Most kidney stones are made of calcium oxalate, and citrate prevents the binding of calcium to oxalate.
How Does a DASH Diet Help to Prevent Kidney Stones?
Not only does a DASH diet increase citrate, which reduces the risk of kidney stones, it also increases urine volume, which helps to prevent stone formation. Researchers believe there may be other compounds in a DASH diet, particularly low-fat dairy, that help to prevent kidney stones.
How to Eat to Prevent Kidney Stones
Interestingly, even though the DASH diet is high in oxalates, a component of calcium oxalate stones, the higher oxalate content doesn’t seem to boost the risk of forming stones. It may be that some of the oxalates in the DASH diet aren’t well absorbed by the intestines.
A DASH Diet to Prevent Kidney Stones: The Bottom Line?
The DASH diet could be just what the doctor ordered for kidney stone sufferers. In this study, it reduced the risk of kidney stones in both men and women, regardless of age. As a bonus, it lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart disease. If you have a history of kidney stones, talk to your doctor about this diet.
Medscape.com. “DASH-Style Diet May Help Prevent Kidney Stones”