What is a kidney stone?

A main job of the kidney is filtering wastes from the blood. The wastes are passed into the urine. The wastes often come from the food we eat. In some people, certain wastes can form a stone in the kidney. There are different types of kidney stones. Diet changes may help prevent most types of kidney stones.

The information below may or may not apply to you. It depends on what kind of stone you have and your other health conditions. Ask your prescriber which diet changes might help you.

How much fluid should I drink?

Increase your fluid intake throughout the day. Try to drink mostly water. How much fluid you should drink depends on other health conditions you might have. For example, if you have heart or kidney failure, this might not be a safe thing for you to do. Talk to your prescriber about how much fluid you should aim for.

Can calcium help?

Some kidney stones contain oxalate. Oxalate comes from foods. Calcium can bind to oxalate in the gut. This keeps oxalate out of the blood, and out of the kidney. But don’t get too much calcium. Aim for 1000 to 1200 mg of calcium daily from diet. Good sources are milk, yogurt, and orange juice with added calcium. Ask your prescriber if you should take a calcium supplement.

Should I avoid food with oxalate?

Some foods have more oxalate than others. But some foods that are high in oxalate are good for your heart, like vegetables and nuts. Talk to your prescriber about which, if any, oxalate foods you should avoid.

What about soda?

Cola drinks make the urine acidic. Acidic urine makes it easy for stones to form. Drink water, sugar-free lemon-lime sodas, or sugar-free lemonade instead.

Can I eat meat?

Meat can play a role in the formation of certain types of stones. Your prescriber might ask you to try to eat less meat and more fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables may reduce kidney stone risk.

Should I watch my sodium intake?

Aim for no more than about 2300 mg of sodium, or about one teaspoon of table salt, per day. A teaspoon of sea salt or kosher salt may have less sodium (check the label of the brand you are using). Taste food before reaching for the salt shaker. But most salt in your diet doesn’t come from the shaker. Avoid processed and fast food. Buy fresh, plain frozen, or canned “no salt added” food. Rinse canned foods to remove some salt. There are phone apps you can get to help you track your sodium intake. Examples include Sodium Tracker and EZ Sodium Tracker.

[This handout may not cover all possible information. It does not replace the need for professional medical care. Always follow the instructions from your health care provider.]