Ask The Harvard Experts: Prevent Kidney Stones With Simple Dietary Changes
Q: I recently passed a kidney stone. I never want to go through that pain again! Whats the best diet to avoid another kidney stone?
A: First and foremost, be sure you drink plenty of fluids every day and avoid dehydration. Kidney stones form when certain minerals concentrate in the urine and form hard crystals. By drinking plenty of fluid, you can decrease the concentration of these minerals. Drink 8 to 12 cups a day.
The most common type of kidney stone is the calcium oxalate stone. About 80% of all kidney stones are made of calcium oxalate. The name might make you think you should eat a low calcium diet to avoid getting them, but you should do the opposite.
The problem is oxalate. Most people who develop calcium oxalate absorb too much oxalate. The extra oxalate is absorbed by the intestines and passed into the blood stream. The body uses what it needs, and the extra oxalate is excreted in the urine. In the urine, the higher concentration of oxalate can combine with calcium to cause kidney stones.
Many of the foods we eat, including some very healthy foods, contain oxalate. Examples include beets, chocolate, spinach, rhubarb, tea, most nuts and chocolate. But its quite difficult to stay on an oxalate restricted diet.
Instead concentrate on eating plenty of calcium rich fools. Inside your intestines, the dietary calcium binds the oxalate before it has a chance to get absorbed into your bloodstream, so less oxalate will need to pass into your urine.
Final Thoughts On Tea For Kidney Disease
- Common teas like black, green, oolong, and white tea are great choices for kidney health. However, be mindful that these types of tea that come from the Cammelia Sinensis plant contain caffeine.
- Black tea contains oxalates
- Green tea may interfere with the blood thinner Coumadin
- Many of the common herbal teas are very safe for individuals with CKD- especially when taken in small doses
- Tea made from fruit
- When purchasing herbal tea, be sure to choose high-quality products that list any warnings or disclaimers on the label and website and information on where the herb was grown.
- Certain types of herbal tea can interfere with medications or cause changes in blood pressure and blood sugar. Most often, this occurs with high doses of herbs.
- If you are unsure about herbs, talk with your doctor or dietitian about their safety.
- Always monitor your blood pressure/ blood sugar and watch for any changes in your usual health when beginning anything new. If you notice any changes to your current health or side effects, discontinue use immediately and contact your doctor.
The Relationship Between Oxalate And Kidney Stones
Unless youre already aware of oxalate, you may be surprised to learn that many leafy greens and plant foods contain high levels of an antinutrient thats linked to higher risk of kidney stones.
Oxalic acid or oxalate is a naturally-occurring compound in plants that interferes with the absorption of calcium.
The main concern with diets high in oxalate is the formation of kidney stones.
For example, research has shown that some vegetarians and vegans who eat lots of plant foods consume more oxalate, and thus may be more likely to get kidney stones.
Kidney stones are small, hard deposits of minerals that form in your kidney and pass through your urinary tract. The most common symptoms are waves of severe pain and nausea, usually in the side of the abdomen.
Some people seem to be more sensitive to dietary oxalate than others. As a result, doctors sometimes recommend a low oxalate diet to prevent the recurrence of kidney stones.
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Diet Metabolic And Urinary Stone Risk Factors
Comparison between male and female groups showed similar urine output , urinary calcium , oxalate , urate , urea , and sodium . Surprisingly, a higher fluid intake in female green tea drinkers compared to non-drinkers was not confirmed by a higher daily urine output . Nevertheless, as shown , the analysis according to sex showed no difference for stone risk factors between green tea drinkers and non-drinkers such as oxalate, calcium, urate, and citrate with even a trend for a lesser oxaluria in the green tea female population . Moreover, 24-h urine supersaturation indexes were similar between green tea drinkers and non-drinkers noteworthy for the calcium oxalate relative supersaturation index and the calcium oxalate product . However, a significant higher Ca/Ox ratio is noticed in female green tea drinkers, suggesting a relatively lower risk for oxalate-dependent stones .
Does Tea Cause Or Treat Kidney Stones
Medically reviewed by Senik Matinyan, MD on December 10, 2019 – Written by the Azul Tea Editorial Team
Drinking tea is good for you right? Well, it may not be as good as you think! And, it may contribute to the formation of kidney stones. But, not all teas share this feature.
And, some teas help you remove kidney stones. So, how do you know which teas are the right ones for you?
Does drinking tea causes kidney stones? Keep reading to find out which ones are safe. And, which ones to avoid if you already have kidney stones.
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Can You Drink Tea With Kidney Stones
If you are hypersensitive to oxalates or suffer from kidney stones, you should probably cut back on your tea consumption in general. Regular tea drinkers, on the other hand, are able to consume modest amounts of this tea. And if they limit the amount they consume, they will prevent themselves from experiencing severe negative effects on their health.
Do Dairy Products Cause Kidney Stones
Im just a cow, doing cow stuff.
We know two facts about kidney stones:
So the logic should follow that consumption of more calcium should increase the chances of getting kidney stones, right?
Nope. In fact, it is just the opposite, at least for calcium oxalate stones, the most common stone by far. It appears that calcium that comes from our food and beverages is actually beneficial, according to a study from the University of Wisconsin.
Our body does three major things with calcium:
Oxalate is a chemical that is found in a number of foods, such as spinach, nuts, tea, and chocolate. When consumed together with calcium, such as that from dairy products, the oxalate binds with excess calcium that is not stored or used in the intestines and passes harmlessly out of the body.
If there is not enough calcium in the intestines, i.e. its being absorbed by your body, then the oxalate passes into your kidneys and hooks up with any calcium atoms it can find, forming the crystals that are the starting point for kidney stones.
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General Recommendations When Choosing Herbal Tea
Its important to know that herbal teas are not regulated for dose, content, or purity. Therefore, when selecting an herbal tea, we recommend looking for a high-quality product that gives clear information about the quality of the ingredients on the label and their brand website.
Be aware that most of the time, adverse reactions to herbal teas occur with excessive use. Therefore, use moderation with any herbal tea.
*Licorice contains glycyrrhizin, a biologically active component that, when metabolized can lead to hypertension and hypokalemia .
When looking at products that contain licorice, be sure to look for the de-glycyrrhizinated form of licorice .
DGL is a safe form of licorice that will not cause any change to blood pressure or potassium levels and is used to treat various conditions in functional medicine.
Iced Tea Consumption Linked To Kidney Stones
Summer is the top time for consumption of iced tea beverages, but Dr John Milner, of Loyola University Medical Center, USA, warned: For people who have a tendency to form the most common type of kidney stones, iced tea is one of the worst things to drink.
Milner explained that iced tea contains high concentrations of oxalate, which is one of the key chemicals that lead to the formation of kidney stones. He noted that the most common cause of kidney stones is dehydration from not drinking enough fluids.
During the warmer summer months people can become dehydrated from sweating, he said, adding that this, combined with increased iced tea consumption, raises the risk of kidney stones, especially in people already at risk.
People are told that in the summertime they should drink more fluids, he said. A lot of people choose to drink more iced tea, because it is low in calories and tastes better than water. However, in terms of kidney stones, they might be doing themselves a disservice.
Oxalates are naturally-occurring organic acids found in plants, and animals. Oxalate is also formed during the normal metabolism processes, and is excreted by the kidneys through urine.
However, because oxalate and calcium are continuously expelled through the urine, they can combine to form calcium-oxalate crystals if the concentration of oxalate is too high to be diluted.
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A Brief History Of Tea
Tea is the most widely consumed beverage globally , after water, of course! Most tea comes from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant. The variety of teas that come from this plant contain caffeine and includes:
Herbal teas come from various plants and flowers and typically do not contain caffeine.
The origin of tea dates back to 2750 BC when it is thought that a Chinese emperor was boiling water, and a leaf from the Camellia Sinensis plant accidentally fell in.
Since then, black, oolong, and green tea have been heralded worldwide for their fantastic taste and medicinal properties and have been at the root of many cultural traditions ever since.
Can Drinking Tea Cause Kidney Stones
You are now aware of what causes kidney stones and what it feels like. We can now focus on whether tea can play a role in their formation. Kidney stone disease is a common health condition that is likely to reoccur after one has had a kidney stone removed. That makes it quite risky to develop it for the first time.
You will find that a huge percentage of people with this disease suffer from calcium oxalate stones. That is about 80% of kidney stone sufferers. Now, the thing with tea is that it contains oxalates. Not all teas have these substances, but most of the teas in the market do. Consider the fact that millions of people consume tea every day, and you will see that this could be a problem.
You cannot avoid oxalates by avoiding tea alone, as these substances are naturally found in many a food. They present as waste products in the blood which the kidney excretes through urine.
Usually, the excretion should be smooth, and no crystallization should take place. The problem comes about when there is a high concentration of oxalates and a lack of liquid in the urine. When this happens, the crystals add up and create stones.
Many people believe that eating a diet high in oxalates can lead to the formation of these stones. Plant products are often high in these substances, including the Camillia Sinensis, from which most teas result.
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Ways To Reduce Your Risk Of Kidney Stones Forming
Please note this advice only applies to kidney stones in adults and not children.
Whos At Risk For Kidney Stones
The prevalence of kidney stones in the United States is growing from 5.2 percent in the mid-1990s to 8.8 percent in 2010, according to data from a nationwide survey presented in May at the American Urological Association meeting but experts cant explain why.
Similar data suggests men are more prone to kidney stones than women especially after age 40 and kidney stone prevalence among women peaks in their fifties, according to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse .
People whove had kidney stones once are more likely to get them again, and those whose family members have a history of kidney stones also face a higher risk.
Food and drink, like iced tea, can facilitate formation of kidney stones in susceptible individuals, but scientists dont believe it does so in people who are not susceptible, according to the NKUDIC.
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Not Sweet: Too Much Iced Tea Causes Kidney Failure
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Drinking tea is good for your health. It may lower the risk of cancer, it can encourage weight loss, and recent studies have shown tea can help lower blood pressure.
But one Arkansas man discovered there can be too much of a good thing.
In May 2014, a 56-year-old man arrived at Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, complaining of weakness, fatigue and body aches. Doctors discovered that his kidneys were failing. He was placed on dialysis. After questioning the patient, they learned that he drank 16 8-ounce glasses of iced tea daily, which is about 1 gallon.
Iced tea is full of oxalic acid, which, when taken in excess, deposits in your kidneys and mucks up the work of removing waste from the blood, says Scott Youngquist, MD, an emergency physician at University of Utah Health. This patient was drinking 16 8-ounce glasses of iced tea per day for an unknown period of time. This created a load of oxalic acid that his kidneys couldn’t handle, leading to renal failure.
Black tea is rich in oxalate, a compound found naturally in many foods. Too much of it can also lead to kidney stones. The man likely consumed 1,500 milligrams of the compound daily. As a comparison, the average person ingests between 150 and 500 milligrams of oxalate each day.
This kind of kidney failure has also been reported due to excessive consumption of star fruit, cucumber fruit, rhubarb and peanuts, Youngquist says.
A Note From The Herbalist
Unless youre planning to drink a gallon of oxalate-heavy black tea every day, your regular tea consumption will likely not cause any issues with your kidneys. However, its always good to enjoy everything in moderation, and to check with your doctor about any health concerns.
Interested in learning more about caffeine? Check out our article Caffeine in Coffee and Tea
If youre interested in exploring some teas that will be kind to your kidneys, check out my selections below! All of Matcha Alternatives teas are ethically sourced, top quality, and super delicious.
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Drinking Iced Tea Increases The Risk Of Kidney Stones: Research
Tuesday, August 7 -People who drink iced tea may be at increased risk of developing painful symptoms Kidney stone, New research shows.
Researchers at Loyola University Medical Center explained that popular summer drinks contain high levels of oxalate. mineral Salt contained in urine. These crystals are usually harmless, but researchers warned that they could grow large enough to stay in a small tube that drains urine from the kidneys into the bladder.
For those who tend to form the most common type Kidney stoneIce tea is one of the worst things to drink, Dr. John Milner, an assistant professor of urology at Loyola University Chicago Strich School of Medicine, said in a news release. Its summer iced tea, but dont overdo it. As with many things related to a healthy lifestyle, moderation is key.
Dehydration is the most common cause of kidney stones, the study authors pointed out. However, drinking iced tea can increase peoples risk of the condition.
People are said to drink more water during the summer, Milner said. Many people choose to drink more iced tea because its low in calories and tastes better than water, but when it comes to kidney stones, they may hurt themselves.
Men are four times more likely to develop kidney stones than women. The risk is significantly higher for men over the age of 40. However, the researchers say: Postmenopausal Women with low estrogen levels and women with ovaries removed are also at increased risk.