Kidney Stones? Remove These 7 Foods From Your Diet

You drink the proper amount of water each day, get your exercise in, and eat a healthy diet — and yet, your doctor may tell you that the sharp pains in your stomach are due to kidney stones. While some people are more prone to kidney stones than others depending on their genetic makeup, you could unknowingly be adding to your risk if you’re eating foods that are known to cause the issue. Though kidney stones have no definite cause, there is a way to lessen your risk through diet.

According to the Mayo Clinic, kidney stones form when there are more crystal-forming substances in your urine, such as uric acid, oxalate, and calcium, than what your urine can completely dilute. These crystals create a hard blockage that feels very painful when moving through the body, and reoccurring episodes can cause kidney damage or urinary tract infections. Check out these seven foods to remove from your diet so that you can lessen your risk of developing kidney stones and maintain good kidney health.

1. Rhubarb


Rhubarb may add to your kidney stone risk. |

If rhubarb pie is one of you favorite treats to eat during the summer months, then it may be time to find a new go-to dessert if you’re prone to kidney stones. While rhubarb contains other health benefits, this plant holds high levels of oxalic acid, according to Claire Georgiou for Reboot with Joe. Oxalic acid is a colorless crystal that occurs naturally in some foods, but consuming it can contribute to the development of kidney stones. Though plenty of foods that contain oxalic acid are good for the body, this crystal can bind with calcium and other minerals in the intestine and form kidney stones. Avoid the raw root and leaves of rhubarb at all costs if you’re on a low-oxalic acid diet, as these contain very high concentrations that can lead to stone formation.

2. Soft drinks

soft drinks

The sugar in soft drinks is bad for your kidneys. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

You’ll want to think twice before ordering that coke with your dinner — soft drink consumption is also linked to kidney stone formation. According to Prevention, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital conducted a study that says soft drinks increase the risk for kidney stones. This is due to the fructose in the drinks, which increases the production of calcium, oxalate, and uric acid in the body that cause the stones to form. Even those who only had one soda per day still had a 23% higher risk of developing kidney stones, so do your best to avoid them at all costs.

3. Artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweetener

Anything artificial is probably bad for your health. |

You know that the fructose in sugary soft drinks can contribute to the formation of kidney stones, but don’t think you’re in the clear if you’re reaching for the diet sodas instead. The Save Institute states that the artificial sugar significantly decreases your kidney functionality, which can lead to the formation of kidney stones. The synthetic chemicals used to make the sweeteners are hard on the kidneys, especially if you’re constantly reaching for sodas, lemonades, and iced teas with every meal. Even just two cans of diet drinks a day will cause a decline in kidney function, so do yourself a favor and sweeten your beverages with plant-derived stevia or honey instead.

4. Cured foods

Fried Bacon on a white plate

Bacon is a cured food that you want to stay away from if you’re prone to kidney stones. |

By now we all know that the ham sandwich you eat for lunch and the slabs of bacon you pair with your eggs for breakfast aren’t doing your health any favors, but there’s even worse news for those who are prone to kidney stone development. Any type of cured food, whether it’s the hot dog for dinner or the smoked salmon for breakfast, will give your kidneys serious issues. The high salt content of these foods is to blame, as the kidneys cannot keep up with the mass amounts of salt that are in most of our diets, and thus works harder to filter the salt from our blood. The University of Chicago explains that eating high levels of sodium also means you’ll find higher levels of calcium in your urine, which can lead to the development of stones. Try lowering the sodium in your meals when you can, and definitely opt out of the cured varieties.

5. Meat

Packaged meat

It’s probably best to just stay away from meat. | Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images

Usually you’ll find that red meat is enemy number one when it comes to meat and your health, but in the case of kidney stones, any animal protein can add to your risk. Daniel Pendick, the former Executive Editor for Harvard Men’s Health Watch, explains that eating animal proteins of any kind, like red meat, eggs, poultry, and even seafood, can increase your risks of developing kidney stones. These foods boost uric acid levels that can help the stones form, and the high amounts of protein lower citrate levels, which is actually a chemical found in the urine that can help prevent kidney stones from forming in the first place. You don’t have to give up meat completely if you’re prone to kidney stones, but definitely limit your intake to one serving per day.

6. Alcohol

alcohol bottles

Binge drinking can cause kidney stones. |

While a glass of red wine with your dinner may actually help prevent kidney stones, it’s important to not take this too far and think that your night of barhopping is good for the kidneys. Beer, wine, and all of your other favorite alcoholic drinks contain purines, which are actually shown to increase the risk of kidney stones, according to The New York Times. Though uric acid stones, which are the stones that are created when too many purines are present in the body, are not the most common type of kidney stone that you can develop, it’s still important to note that alcohol can increase your risk. Your risk is even higher when you binge drink, so keep your consumption levels to a minimum if you’re prone to kidney stone development.

7. Cranberry juice

Pouring cranberry juice into a glass

Cranberries aren’t the best thing for your kidneys. |

Cranberry juice can be good for preventing urinary tract infections, so you may associate it with vitality, health, and goodness for the kidneys, too. While pure cranberry juice with no added sugar may be good for reducing the risk of some rare types of kidney stones, cranberry juice cocktail (the delicious juice blend that’s loaded with sugar that can actually make your UTIs worse) might be what you’re grabbing if you’re not careful. Not only is cranberry juice cocktail loaded with sugar that can increase your kidney stone risk, but it’s also packed with oxalates, which puts you at a higher risk for the development of kidney stones. The best thing you can do for your kidneys is drink water to help flush out impurities, and keep your juice consumption to a minimum.