Calcium and Potassium-Rich Diets Prevent Kidney Stones Recurrence

The kidneys, two bean-shaped structures located in the paravertebral gutters, are our major excretory organs. They are responsible for maintaining a stable internal environment of the body, by engaging in some important processes including ultra-filtration, excretion, osmoregulation, and maintenance of acid-base balance. A common problem associated with these important organs is kidney stones.

Kidney Stones

Kidney Stones

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Kidney stones are solid masses or crystals of minerals and salts that buildup within the kidneys over time. They occur as a result of the urine being too concentrated in such a way that leads to the crystallization of minerals present in it. These stones can block the ureters, thereby, obstructing the flow of urine. This causes the kidneys to become swollen, and urination to be painful.

If a person experiences a kidney stone once, there is a 30% possibility of recurrence within another five years. To prevent this, doctors often advise a change in diet. However, doctors are still unsure of the best choice of diet intake for a patient who has one incident of kidney stone as opposed to those who have recurrent incidents. Studies have been ongoing to uncover this, and thanks to the team of researchers at Mayo Clinic, there seems to be an answer to it now.

Best choice of diet to reduce kidney stone recurrence rate

Doctors have always recommended dietary changes based on factors linked to the first-time kidney stone occurrence rather than a recurrent case, thereby, the high chances of recurrence. The team discovered this by administering a questionnaire to 411 patients who had kidney stones for the first time, and to another group of 384 people – the control group – who visited the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and Florida between 2009 and 2018. They were able to discover that diets low in calcium and potassium, fluids, caffeine, and phytate, are linked to the occurrence of a first-time kidney stone disease: low fluid intake of less than 3,400ml (about nine 12-ounce glasses) of fluid per day; low caffeine intake which leads to a low volume of urine, that is highly concentrated; low intake of phytate, an antioxidant present in whole grains and nuts responsible for more calcium absorption and urinary calcium excretion.

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73 out of the patients that experienced recurrent kidney stones did so within an average of 4.1 years of follow-up. On further research, they discovered that diets that are low in calcium and potassium contributed big time to recurrent stones and that this is the major factor that facilitates recurrence.

At the end of the study, they concluded that a daily intake of a diet that contains about 1,200mg of calcium might not only help prevent first-time kidney stones but recurrent stones as well. In addition, they did not recommend that potassium be taken daily as with calcium, though, a higher level of potassium intake is recommended too.

Clinical significance

With this finding, doctors can now be sure of diet recommendations to prevent the recurrence of kidney stones in people who have experienced them once. Fruits and vegetables with high calcium and potassium contents should be added to their diets. Some potassium-rich fruits are bananas, oranges, melons, and apricots; potassium-rich veggies include mushrooms, potatoes, peas, and cucumbers.

Conclusion

Identifying the cause of the problem is always the first step to finding a solution. In this study, the team of researchers at Mayo Clinic uncovered the key factor behind kidney stone recurrence, and this discovery would go a long way to help prevent it. This study has also made a way for newer and better innovations that can help prevent even first-time kidney stones, to develop in the future.

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References

Dietary Risk Factors for Incident and Recurrent Symptomatic Kidney Stones

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