A diet originally intended to lower blood pressure may work just as well for preventing kidney stones, researchers from the National Kidney Foundation say.
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension — or DASH — diet allows a more practice approach to people at risk for kidney stones, allowing them to eat a broader range of foods.
"Previous studies have recommended that those with kidney stones follow a low-oxalate diet to reduce one's chances of forming another stone," Kerry Willis, senior vice president for scientific activities at the National Kidney Foundation, said in a statement. "However, many high-oxalate foods are healthful and a low-oxalate diet can be very restrictive. The DASH diet reflects a more balanced diet and as a result may be easier and more realistic to follow long term."
Usually, doctors recommend a diet low in oxalate to patients at risk for developing kidney stones, given that most kidney stones result from oxalate binding to calcium while the kidneys produce urine. Such a diet restricts foods such as beets, navy beans, bulgar, kale, almonds, sweet potatoes, rice bran, rhubarb, and spinach.
In the study, Willis and her colleagues followed 41 people who restricted themselves to either the DASH or low-oxalate diets during an eight-week period. Those on the DASH diet cut their risk of developing kidney stones by 35 percent, while the others cut their risk by 14 percent. Moreover, the researchers suggested that combining the two dietary types may provide the most effective means of preventing kidney stones.
In fact, the combination increases the likelihood that oxalate and calcium bind in the stomach and intestines before moving to the kidney, meaning a lowered chance of kidney stones forming, according to Nazanin Noori, who led the study. "Most people do not eat single, isolated nutrients, such as oxalate, but rather meals consisting of a variety of foods," he said. "So a practical diet plan for kidney stone prevention should be based on the cumulative effects of foods and the impact overall dietary patterns have on risk for stone formation rather than single nutrients."
The National Kidney Foundation advises people to drink plenty of fluids, at least 68 ounces daily, to prevent kidney stones from forming -- in addition to eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, while limiting high-fat dairy, salt, and animal protein.