There is no single kidney stone diet for everyone. Instead, nutrition for kidney stone prevention needs to be specialized to the kind of kidney stone you have. Read on to learn all about diet for uric acid kidney stone prevention.
Or, check out my post about nutrition for calcium oxalate kidney stones.
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Uric Acid Kidney Stones
Uric acid kidney stones make up about 10% of kidney stones in the United States. (1) Calcium oxalate kidney stones are the most common and make up about 75% of kidney stones. Kidney stones can also be made of calcium phosphate, struvite or cystine.
Causes of Uric Acid Kidney Stones
Low Urine pH
The main cause of uric acid kidney stones is urine that is too acidic. Uric acid becomes less soluble, and more likely to make a kidney stone, in acid. (2)
The amount of acid in your urine is measured by urine pH. Lower urine pH means that there is more acid in your urine. For kidney stone prevention, urine pH should be between approximately 5.8 and 6.2. A urine pH of less than 5.5 is a significant risk factor for uric acid kidney stones.(3)
Some of the most common causes of low urine pH are:
High Urine Uric Acid
A 24-hour urine test will measure the amount of uric acid in your urine. Uric acid can also be measured by a simple blood test.
Uric Acid Kidney Stone Symptoms
The symptoms of uric acid kidney stones are the same as other types of kidney stones. The most common symptoms of kidney stones are:
- Pain in the lower back or groin
- Bloody urine
- Nausea or vomiting
- Fever or chills
How Do I Know If I Have Uric Acid Kidney Stones?
The only way to know for sure if you’ve had a uric acid kidney stone is to have your kidney stone analyzed. Don’t flush or throw away your kidney stone! Your doctor can send the kidney stone to a lab to get it analyzed.
If you were unable to catch your kidney stone, don’t fret! A 24-hour urine test can give you and your doctor a pretty good guess as to what kind of kidney stone you had. And, even better, the test can help you know what you can do to help prevent kidney stones from forming again. A 24 hour urine test is also a good option if you haven’t passed your kidney stone yet, but want to start to work on prevention!
Medical Treatment of Uric Acid Kidney Stones
Allopurinol is a common medication used to reduce uric acid and treat both gout and uric acid kidney stones.
4 Steps to Prevent Uric Acid Kidney Stones with Diet
In addition to medication, diet is an important part of uric acid kidney stone treatment.
Here are my 4 steps to the uric acid kidney stone diet.
Step 1: Drink Plenty of Water
Water is key to prevention of any type of kidney stone. Most people should drink enough to make 2 1/2 liters of urine each day. For most of us, this means drinking 3 liters (or, about 100 fluid ounces) of fluid each day. (5)
What Should I Drink?
Of course, water is best for kidney stone prevention. But, plain old water can get boring. Here are my favorite ways to mix it up:
- Unsweetened sparking water such as La Croix*, Spindrift*, Bubly* or Polar*
- Water infused with fruit and/or fresh herbs
- Unsweetened iced tea
- Hot coffee and tea (yes! 1-2 cups of coffee or tea per day is fine!)
- Sugar free lemonade and flavored drinks like Crystal Light*
On the flip side, there are some fluids you should stay away from with uric acid kidney stones. Enjoy these beverages in moderation:
- Regular soda
- Large amounts of juice
- Sweet tea
- Lemonade made with sugar
- Energy drinks
Getting in this much water is no easy task! Many of my patients find it easier with the help of technology. A “smart” water bottle, such as the Hidrate Spark* can help you stay on track and meet your fluid goals.
Step 2: Smaller Portions of Animal Protein
Diets very high in animal protein increase risk of uric acid kidney stones. Our bodies make acid during the metabolism of animal protein. This acid gets excreted in our urine. So, the more animal protein you eat, the more acid is produced, and the more acid ends up in your urine.
Of course, you need to eat some protein! The key is eating the right amount of protein. You don’t necessarily need to go vegetarian and completely avoid meat. But, it is a good idea to keep portions of these foods to 3-6 ounces when you do eat them:
- Beef, pork and other meats
- Fish & Seafood
Ask your doctor or dietitian exactly how much protein is right for you!
Step 3: Eat More Produce
Whereas animal protein lowers urine pH, fruits and vegetables increase urine pH! Your body makes alkali (or, the opposite of acid) during the metabolism of fruits and vegetables. This alkali helps neutralize acid in your body.
Aim for at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Any kind of fruit or vegetable will make alkali. Focus on a variety of fruits and vegetables. Enjoy whatever kind of vegetables and fruits you like!
Step 4: Limit Foods High in Purines
Purines are found in some foods and are metabolized to uric acid in our bodies. It is a good idea to limit foods high in purines as much as you can to prevent uric acid kidney stones.
- Red meat (beef, lamb, goat, etc.)
- Processed meats (bacon, sausage, lunchmeat, bologna, salami, etc.)
- Organ meats
- Beer and other alcohol
Dissolving Uric Acid Kidney Stones
Many people ask how to get rid of, or dissolve, kidney stones. Unfortunately, there is no food or herbal supplement that will dissolve or help get rid of kidney stones that have already formed. (Yes, even chanca piedra!). Medical treatment with large doses of alkali (usually in the form of potassium citrate or sodium bicarbonate) can help dissolve uric acid kidney stones.
But, these tips, along with a healthy lifestyle, can help prevent more kidney stones and stop kidney stones from growing.