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Preventing Kidney Stones

Kidney stones form when certain substances in urine, such as calcium and oxalate, become highly concentrated. They are more likely to develop in people with a family history of kidney stones.

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One of the most successful ways to avoid new or recurring kidney stones is by changing your diet. Your NYU Langone doctor may recommend the following tips to prevent kidney stones from forming.

Stay Well Hydrated

One of the best ways to prevent kidney stones is to drink more fluid, which dilutes your urine and prevents kidney stones from forming and growing. Our doctors recommend drinking more than 10 to 12 glasses of fluid—which can include water plus other beverages—per day.

Eat Less Animal Protein

Many Americans eat more animal protein than they need, which can lead to the development of kidney stones. Our doctors recommend that you limit the amount of animal-based protein you eat to six to eight ounces of beef, pork, poultry, or fish per day. Eight ounces is about the size of two decks of cards. In addition, eating more fruits and vegetables can help to prevent stones from returning.

Limit Your Salt Intake

The more sodium you consume, the more calcium there is in your urine. You can reduce the amount of sodium you eat by limiting or avoiding fast food, salty snacks, and packaged, processed, or canned foods. You should aim to eat less than 2,000 milligrams of sodium each day.

Get Enough Dietary Calcium

Your body needs calcium to help support your bones, yet calcium supplements can actually increase the risk of kidney stones forming. Unless you require a calcium supplement for a specific medical reason, such as conditions like osteopenia or osteoporosis, our doctors recommend that you obtain calcium from food instead of supplements. You can do this by eating or drinking two to three servings of dairy or other calcium-rich foods per day, such as milk and yogurt.

Eat Fewer Foods with a High Oxalate Content

Calcium oxalate stones, the most common type of kidney stone, form when calcium and oxalate combine in the urine. If you have been diagnosed with calcium oxalate kidney stones, your doctor may recommend that you limit your intake of foods that contain higher amounts of oxalate, such as beets, black pepper, black tea, chocolate, nuts, potatoes, rhubarb, soy products, and spinach. A more complete list can be provided by our doctors and nurses.

Our Research and Education in Kidney Stones

Learn more about our research and professional education opportunities.