A Mayo Clinic study has discovered a dietary approach to help prevent kidney stones

Kidney stone illustration. Mayo Clinic researchers have found that supplementing the diet with foods rich in calcium and potassium can prevent recurrent symptomatic kidney stones.

Diets high in calcium and potassium can help prevent kidney stones from recurring

Kidney stones not only cause severe pain, but are also associated with chronic kidney disease, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease. If you’ve had a kidney stone once, you have a 30% chance of getting another kidney stone within five years.

Typically, doctors prescribe dietary changes to prevent kidney stones from recurring. Unfortunately, there is little research on dietary changes for those who have had kidney stones.

A kidney stone is a hard, pebble-like material that forms in one or both of your kidneys when your urine contains high levels of certain minerals.

Therefore, Mayo Clinic researchers designed a prospective study to study the effects of dietary changes. According to their results, enriching the diet with foods rich in calcium and potassium can prevent recurrent symptomatic kidney stone disease.

The study included 411 patients with kidney stones for the first time and a control group of 384 people. Dietary factors were based on a questionnaire administered to participants, all of whom were seen between 2009 and 2018 at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and the Mayo Clinic in Florida. The results will be announced today (August 1). Mayo Clinic ProceedingsLow dietary calcium and potassium, as well as low intake of fluids, caffeine and phytate, show that it is associated with a high probability of experiencing symptomatic kidney stones for the first time.

73 patients with first-time stones experienced recurrence of stones during 4.1 years of follow-up. Further analysis showed that low levels of dietary calcium and potassium predicted recurrence.

“These dietary findings may be particularly important because recommendations for kidney stone prevention are based primarily on dietary factors that predate stone formation, not on stone recurrence,” said Andrew Rule, MD, a Mayo Clinic nephrologist and senior author of the study. “Patients may not adjust their diet to prevent kidney stones, but they will if it helps prevent recurrence.”

The study found that less than 3,400 milliliters of fluid per day, or nine 12-ounce glasses, or caffeine and phytate, were associated with first-time stone formation. Daily fluid intake includes foods such as fruits and vegetables.

If you have kidney stones, drink plenty of water unless otherwise directed by a healthcare professional.

Drinking less fluids and caffeine can lead to less urine volume and increased urine concentration, which can contribute to stone formation. Phytate is an antioxidant compound found in whole grains, nuts, and other foods that promotes calcium absorption and urinary calcium excretion.

“Dietary changes to prevent kidney stones can be very difficult,” says Dr. A rule. “Thus, knowing which dietary factors are most important for preventing kidney stone recurrence can help patients and providers know what to prioritize.”

Api Chevcharat, MD, first author of the paper and a postdoctoral fellow at the Mayo Clinic at the time of the study, found that low dietary calcium and potassium were more important predictors of kidney stone formation than fluid intake. “That doesn’t mean it’s not important to drink plenty of fluids. We simply did not find a benefit from increasing fluid volume in patients with kidney stones.

The study concluded that a diet with a daily intake of 1,200 milligrams of calcium may help prevent both first-time and recurrent kidney stones. This daily intake is in line with the Department of Agriculture’s recommended daily intake.

While a high potassium intake is recommended, the USDA does not recommend a daily potassium intake. The study also does not suggest an acceptance rate.

Dr. According to Chevcharat, patients should include more fruits and vegetables, which are high in calcium and potassium, in their diet. Fruits rich in potassium include bananas, oranges, grapefruit, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and apricots. Vegetables include potatoes, mushrooms, beans, cucumbers and zucchini.

Reference: “Dietary Risk Factors for Incident and Recurrent Symptomatic Kidney Stones” August 1, 2022 Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
DOI: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2022.04.016

Co-authors with Drs. Rule and Chewcharat Charat Thongprayoon, MD; Lisa Vaughn; Ramila Mehta; Phillip Schulte, MD; Helen O’Connor; and John Liske, MD – all of Mayo Clinic – and Erin Taylor, MD, of the VA Maine Healthcare System. Dr. Schulte reports personal payments from OxThera Inc. In addition to this research work. Dr. Lieske reports grants and/or other payments from pharmaceutical and related companies mentioned in the article—all outside of this study and all paid to the Mayo Clinic. The other authors declare no competing interests.

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