10 Foods That Can Cause Kidney Stones

Kidney stones can go unnoticed for years if they remain small. However, in many individuals, they cause considerable pain and temporary disability. What causes these agonizing formations, and how can you prevent and treat them? 

Some of the answers may lie in your diet. Here are ten foods that can cause kidney stones and an overview of this condition with your treatment options. 

What Are Kidney Stones and How Are They Treated? 

Each year, nearly half a million people go to the ER for kidney stone-related issues. Although almost one in ten individuals will have one in their lifetime, rates continue to rise. Part of the reason for the increase might have to do with dietary changes over the years. 

There are four types of kidney stones, and the sort that plagues you might offer clues as to the most problematic substances for your body. 

  • Calcium oxalate stones: These are the most common type of kidney stone. Fortunately, they are also the variety that may respond best to dietary changes. 
  • Calcium phosphate stones: These types typically result from problems with the urinary system, and your doctor will order a series of tests to determine the cause. 
  • Struvite stones: Most common among women, these stones often result from repeated urinary tract infections. 
  • Uric acid stones: These tend to strike men who don’t drink enough water and consume a diet high in animal protein. If you’re a hulking gym rat, please, drink up! 

Kidney stones form rock-like crystals — think about your anatomy for a minute. When something sharp encounters a soft tissue, bleeding and pain result. 

The first clue that you are passing a kidney stone is a sudden and sharp pain on one side of your back. While you might feel panicky, take comfort in knowing that most stones require little more than medication and tons of water to treat. The ache occurs right below the ribs where your kidneys sit. 

You may also experience the following symptoms:

  • Pain or blood while urinating: Even though you got the pesky stone out of the affected organ, you still need to pass it through your body.
  • Cloudy or foul-smelling urine: The mineral deposits can make your pee hazy and smell funky.
  • Nausea and vomiting: Because your vagus nerve hits many digestive organs, not just your kidney, mixed pain signals can spell gastrointestinal upset. 
  • Fever and chills: These two signs should tell you to seek medical attention. You may have an infection that requires antibiotics to treat. 

Once your doctor determines kidney stones cause your problem, they’ll prescribe the appropriate medications and send you on your way, advising you to drink water like a camel. Stones tend to recur and run in families, so once you experience one bout and recognize the signs, you’re usually fine to self-treat unless something changes. 

However, if you want to keep the problem from coming back, you need preventative medicine — dietary changes. 

10 Foods That Can Cause Kidney Stones 

If you are prone to kidney stones, please eat the following foods in moderation, if at all. 

1. Beef 

A diet rich in animal proteins can promote kidney stone growth in two ways. It raises your blood uric acid levels, which facilitates the formation, and it decreases urinary citrate, which inhibits them from forming. If you live on burgers because you go heavy and hard in the gym, please note that you might increase your risk of this disorder. 

2. Pork

Like its cousin, beef, pork can likewise prompt uric acid increases and urinary citrate decreases. Take heed, please, if you follow a low-carb diet. Kidney stones are a known risk of the ketogenic diet, and you may need to work with a nutritionist if you are prone to the problem. At the very least, avoid processed versions of this meat, like ham, which may cause gout, a painful form of arthritis. 

3. Soda 

A study published by the National Institutes of Health indicated that those who drink soda regularly have a 23% higher chance of developing kidney stones. Drinks high in sugar and other ingredients aren’t hydrating enough to let your body flush effectively. 

4. Salt

Do you remember that calcium oxalate stones occur most frequently? Salt is the main constituent of kidney stones, and pouring on the shaker can lead to agony. 

5. Cocoa Powder

Studies show conflicting evidence on cocoa powder’s impact on stones. However, since obesity puts you at a higher risk, those who eat a lot of chocolate have to mind their waistlines. Also, chocolate is one of several foods on this list high in oxalates, which may prompt stone formation.

6. Spinach

Dark leafy greens are health food powerhouses. However, they also contain high oxalate levels. Experiment with small amounts to see if you can tolerate such foods. 

7. Swiss Chard

Like spinach, swiss chard has multiple benefits — but you can eat too much of a good thing, salad diva. 

8. Sweet Potatoes

Isn’t it crazy when otherwise healthy foods can prove troublesome for others? These vitamin A-packed powerhouses contain a ton of oxalates. 

9. Nuts

Fortunately, not all nuts are created equal — for example, peanuts are technically a legume. However, try to avoid almonds, cashews and Brazil nuts, as these are the highest in oxalates. 

10. Beets

Rounding out the high oxalate food crew are beets. While these red veggies have plenty of antioxidants, they have a cache of the problematic chemical, too. 

Eat These Foods That Can Cause Kidney Stones in Moderation 

If you have urinary health issues, you want to do everything possible to keep them from recurring. Please consume these foods that can cause kidney stones in moderation or eliminate them from your diet — see if your symptoms abate.