Foods to avoid with kidney stones include anything high in oxalate, a chemical that contributes to the development of stones in the urinary tract. Dark leafy greens are a leading culprit, but numerous other foods including chocolate, tea, and okra can also be high in oxalate. At the same time, it is important to eat a balanced diet, high in calcium, to prevent oxalate absorption, and lots of fluids to keep the urinary tract flushed. Research suggests that a medium protein diet is optimal for people with a history of kidney stones.
High-oxalate foods to avoid include any dark green leafy vegetables like kale, chard, and spinach; chocolates and teas; peanuts; wheat germ; okra; soy; and sweet potatoes. All of these foods should be eaten in small amounts, and it is important to cook them thoroughly to promote the breakdown of any oxalate they contain. Some foods contain lesser amounts of oxalate and should be eaten in moderation but do not need to be completely avoided. These include fresh fruits, celery, and liver.
While fruits and vegetables rank high on the list of foods to avoid with kidney stones, it is not a good idea to cut them out of the diet completely. Many vegetables, like carrots, are perfectly safe to eat, and fruits can have varying amounts of oxalate; apples and bananas, for example, are good food choices. Fresh fruits and vegetables have a number of benefits, and it is important to keep them in the diet and to maintain variation to avoid getting bored.
Fluids can include water, herbal teas, and juices. Increasing potassium and calcium intake will also help for people with kidney stones. Yogurt, beans, almonds, cheese, and sardines can all be good additions to the diet. The calcium and potassium will bind to the oxalate and limit absorption through the gut. This reduces the amount available for kidney stone formation. Animal protein is not specifically on the list of foods to avoid, but it should be eaten moderately, as higher protein diets appear to have a link with the development of stones.
Patients evaluating a list of foods to avoid with kidney stones may feel overwhelmed by the extent of changes they need to make to their diets. It can help to talk to a nutritionist about the options available. Nutritionists can help patients transition more easily to a healthy kidney stone diet and will offer tips and tricks for addressing food cravings.