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The Kidney Stone Diet

We live in what is known as the ‘stone belt’. That’s because there are increased risk factors for kidney stone formation. A lot of these kidney stone risk factors are lifestyle based. Making the necessary changes can help with preventing and reducing the frequency of kidney stones.

More than 80% of kidney stones are made of calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate. Some stones can be uric acid. People often have mixed stones, e.g. calcium and uric acid stones. There can also be a change in the type of stones that your body makes, converting from one type to the other.

Dietary Risk Factors for Kidney Stones

  • Not enough water intake
  • High sodium diet
  • Low calcium intake
  • High oxalate intake
  • High animal protein intake
  • Medical history related to diet
    • Diabetes
    • Gout
    • Obesity/overweight
    • High blood pressure
    • Bariatric surgery


Dietary Modifications for Kidney Stones

Your food choices are dependent upon your lifestyle, work schedule, and other social, psychological, and emotional factors. Therefore, individual counseling is important to learn what to eat, how much to eat, when to eat, and how to balance your plate based on your medical history.

However, here are some general guidelines:

#1 – Drink plenty of water.

  • Drink about 64-80 ounces of water every day.
  • The goal is to make >2-2.5 liters of urine per day.
  • Avoid beverages that have sugar, artificial colors, chemicals, or sweeteners.
  • Add lime or lemon to the water to increase citrate.

Learn more about water and kidney function.

#2 – Get an adequate amount of calcium, preferably from food.

Good sources of calcium include any of the following. Be sure to eat a variety of these.

  • 1 cup plain, vanilla yogurt
  • 1 cup fortified soy/almond milk
  • ½ cup cooked collard greens
  • turnip greens, kale, or broccoli
  • ½ cup cooked chick peas or black eyed peas
  • 1 tablespoon Blackstrap molasses
  • 1 orange

#3 – Eat a low sodium diet.

  • Avoid packaged, processed foods and fast foods.
  • Avoid canned soup and frozen meals.
  • Limit eating out.
  • Avoid the salt shaker.
  • Use herbs, spices, and seasonings to flavor the food.

#4 – Avoid all soda.

Also try to avoid foods with preservatives – check for the words ‘sodium’ and ‘phos’ on the ingredient list.

#5 – Limit foods high in oxalate.

The oxalate content of foods varies depending upon the soil where it was grown. Therefore, information found on the Internet and websites may not always be reliable.


  • Spinach
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Beets
  • Almonds
  • Bran
  • Chocolate
  • *Avoid black tea (iced tea, sweet tea and unsweet tea)


#6 – Limit animal protein.

This includes all animal sources, including:

  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Cheese

The total recommendation for the day is no more than 4-6 ounces.

#7 – Work towards a healthy weight.

If you are overweight, it may be a good idea to work towards getting to a healthier weight. Avoid drastic weight loss diets, especially high protein low carb diets. Work with a registered dietitian to make lifestyle changes.

Other dietary modifications may be personalized based on your medical history.

#8 – Avoid too many vitamins, minerals and other supplements.

Your nephrologist/nutritionist will guide you if you need to take calcium, Vitamin D, or other supplements.

About Parul Kharod, MS, RD, LDN

Parul is a Clinical Dietitian in Outpatient Nutrition Services at WakeMed Cary Hospital, and she is also part of the Kidney Stone Center Prevention Team. For information related to diet and nutrition, or to speak to one of our licensed, registered dietitians, contact Outpatient Nutrition Services today.

For immediate assistance with kidney stone issues, call the WakeMed Kidney Stone Center on the Stone Phone: 919-350-ROCK (7625).