If you’ve ever experienced a kidney stone, you know just how painful they can be. I’ve only ever had one thankfully, but I remember it being one of the most excruciating pains I’ve ever felt. They’re not fun, and as it turns out, your diet can play a big role in how likely you are to get one. If you’ve experienced a lot of kidney stones, you may have been told to try a low oxalate diet to help reduce your risk. We’ll break down what exactly that diet looks like and why it’s beneficial, along with other tips you can use to reduce your risk of kidney stones.
First, it’s helpful to know what oxalate is, and its role in forming kidney stones.
Oxalate is a naturally-occurring molecule that’s found in foods like leafy greens, fruits, and some nuts and seeds. It’s considered an antinutrient, which means that it can block our body’s ability to absorb essential vitamins and minerals. While this is a good thing for the plants this molecule is found in, it’s not something that translates well when introduced to our bodies.
For most people, consuming foods with oxalates isn’t an issue. But for some more oxalate-sensitive people, eating too much of these foods can become a problem. That’s when considering a low-oxalate diet can be beneficial.
When we eat foods that are high in oxalate, our body doesn’t really know what to do with it. So just like fiber, it ends up getting passed through our digestive system and tossed out with the garbage, if you catch my drift.
While this molecule is passing through our intestines though, it can pick up extra calcium along the way, binding to it and creating calcium oxalate. This compound can be passed pretty easily by our bodies, but when too much oxalate slips through, that’s when kidney stones can form. Calcium oxalate kidney stones are the most common type of kidney stone you’ll encounter, and can cause extreme pain, urinary tract blockage, and blood in the urine. And the more foods rich in oxalate you consume, the higher your risk for developing these kinds of kidney stones.
This is where adopting a low-oxalate diet can come in handy. If you’ve experienced frequent kidney stones or have a family history of developing them, being more conscious about the foods you’re choosing to eat can help you avoid them.
First thing’s first – it’s important to note that there isn’t currently an agreed-upon level of oxalates that is acceptable in a low-oxalate diet. According to researchers at the University of Chicago though, a good goal to have is to intake less than 100 mg of oxalate per day, and lower if you can.
While it’s pretty difficult to eliminate oxalate from your diet completely, making a few key switches can help reduce your intake, while ensuring you’re still getting plenty of important vitamins and minerals.
Next time you hit the grocery store, consider adding these low oxalate foods to your list:
On that same note, try to avoid these high oxalate foods whenever possible. You don’t have to ban them from your diet entirely, but just be mindful of your consumption.
Along with taking up a low oxalate diet, there are plenty of other ways you can actively reduce your risk of kidney stones.
With a few simple switches to your diet, you can help reduce your risk of painful kidney stones. Just be sure to talk to your doctor before starting the low oxalate diet. Let us know in the comments below if this is something you’ve tried!
Want to learn how to boost your heart health as well? Explore our favorite heart healthy foods!