The good news about kidney stones is that they often pass without serious damage to your urinary tract. But the bad news is that passing them can really hurt! Plus, they tend to recur in some unlucky people. If you want to prevent kidney stones, simple changes to your diet can be very effective.
Drink more water. This is the most powerful preventive step against kidney stones, and also the easiest. Aim to drink 60 to 80 ounces of water daily. Some people with especially high risk might need more than that.
Reduce your sodium intake. Try to consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily, per US dietary guidelines. The easiest way to do this is by limiting your consumption of processed foods.
Add lime or lemon juice to drinks. These contain citrate, which prevent calcium from bonding to anything else (and creating stones).
Eat more fruit. Fruits contain citrates, plus they are more alkaline which helps to fight against kidney stones. They are also high in water and fiber.
Limit high-oxalate foods. Leafy greens, beets, rhubarb, and sweet potatoes contain high levels of oxalates, which can contribute to kidney stone formation. If you do eat these foods, combine them with dairy. The oxalates will bind with calcium and remain in the stool, rather than being absorbed by your body.
Tea, soy milk, and almond milk are also high in oxalates, and should be avoided by those at high risk for kidney stones.
Avoid soda. Sodas contain high levels of sugar, which increases the amount of calcium in urine.
Don’t use calcium supplements. Calcium supplements can increase your risk of kidney stones. But you should still be careful to consume enough calcium through food, or else you risk osteoporosis.
Drink coffee (assuming it is otherwise safe for you). At least one large study has found a link between increased coffee consumption and reduced incidence of kidney stones.
Of course, these tips might not eliminate kidney stones for everyone. Your best course of action is always to consult with your doctor and follow their advice, which is geared specifically toward your particular medical situation.