Busting myths about diet and kidney stones

According to HealthEast’s Kidney Stone Institute, popular myths about the diet and kidney stones aren’t necessarily true. The first? Avoid calcium. Since many kidney stones are made of calcium, it would seem that you should stay away from calcium. Right? Not so. Doctors may treat people with high oxalate (the other ingredient in many kidney stones) with calcium supplements, because if calcium and oxalate meet in the stomach, they’ll be absorbed into the body.

Another myth? Drinking water, and only water, will help prevent stones. Not true. Drinking anything with water as a base will help prevent stones. And, coffee, tea and carbonated drinks do not increase the risk for stones, because there are preventive effects of the water in the drinks. (The exception: grapefruit juice.)

Many people also think that alcohol causes stones, due to the diuretic effect that may cause dehydration and be a risk for stone formation. In fact, in studies, beer and wine were found to significantly decrease the risk of stone formation. Don’t overindulge, but moderate alcohol use will not increase the risk for stones.

The final diet myth? Vitamin C contributes to kidney stone formation. The truth—normal amounts do not appear to increase the risk of kidney stones.

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