Trying to prevent your next stone? The right dietary choices can make a world of difference. Dr. Marshall L. Stoller, who has over 35 years of experience in urology, gives us his top recommendations on what drinks we should consume to keep kidney stones at bay.
It can be difficult to estimate how much water to drink daily. Is there a recommended amount for kidney stones patients?
We all need to drink fluids. Our bodies are like plants – if you don’t water your plant, the leaves will droop; you water it, they perk up. We want you all to be perked up!
For kidney stone patients, we usually recommend drinking enough water to ensure you make about 1.6 to 2 liters of pee per day. Note that the amount you drink and that which you pee may be very different. For instance, your environment affects how much you pee. As someone living in foggy and cool San Francisco, I don’t sweat as much, and thus I will tend to pee more in comparison to someone living in a hot and humid area.
Many people find water bland. Is there an alternative to water? What should kidney stone patients look out for when reaching for a drink?
The best thing to drink for healthy kidneys is plain water. If you don’t like water, you can add a lemon in. Lemon juice is helpful in preventing kidney stones by increasing your urinary citrate.
If you are looking for alternative drinks to plain water, such as seltzer water, check the sodium content. Choose options with lower sodium as salt encourages kidney stone formation. I also encourage people to drink water during their meals, and approximately 2 hours after each meal.
The bottom line is to have something you are happy to drink, whether it be with lemon in it or not.
Are there any drinks you would recommend your patients with kidney stones?
The most frequent question I get from my kidney stone patients over the last 35 years is: What should I drink? Dr Eisner from Mass General at Harvard, David Goldfarb from NYU and I deal with kidney stones daily. We thought, “We have Gatorade for the athletic folks, how can we make a drink for people who have kidney stones?”
So, we decided to put together the right mixture of ingredients that prevents kidney stones and promotes kidney health – and came up with Moonstone. It comes in a packet, as tablets or gummies, and in many different flavors. Next to water, they are the next best thing drink for kidney stone patients! You can get Moonstone at Walmart or CVS, and online on Amazon.
Why is Moonstone so popular? Could you tell us more about the active ingredients and how they’re beneficial to kidney health?
Moonstone contains goodies such as such as magnesium citrate salts and vitamin B6, but its star ingredient is alkali citrate. With about 30 mEq alkali citrate and 25 mEq citric acid per serving, it is enough to immediately improve urinary pH in the body – a key factor in preventing kidney stones.
For most patients, without proper nutrients and hydration, the likelihood of another stone is about 50% within a 5-year period. That number may vary depending on your family history, but we want to do everything we can to help you prevent stones.
Moonstone has also been endorsed by the American Kidney Foundation, not to mention it also actually tastes really good.
For me, it would be best to hydrate with Moonstone to get the benefits of both water and the necessary nutrients to support healthy kidney chemistry. I recommend it to all my patients too.
If you had 3 tips for your kidney stone patients, what would they be?
Firstly, drink adequate fluids – Moonstone, water or lemon water, drink that with your meals and a couple of hours after each meal. That is important. If you are going to be in a situation where you are going to sweat a lot, you need to drink more fluids.
Secondly, I would get rid of the saltshaker and minimize sodium content. Avoid fast foods and frozen or canned foods, those usually have very high salt content. If there are low sodium options available, go for those. I’m not saying to completely eliminate salt, but reducing it from your diet will definitely be doing your kidneys a huge favor!
Thirdly, moderate your animal protein intake. If you are going to be eating meat, have portions about the size of the palm of your hand. You can have a portion of meat for lunch and dinner, but not two portions at same time. When you eat big amounts of meat, it can cause metabolic acidosis, which increases the excretion of calcium and raises your likelihood of stone formation.
To emphasize, have a low salt diet, moderate your meat consumption and drink enough fluids!
Dr. Marshall L. Stoller is the Head of University of California, San Francisco’s (UCSF) urinary stone division, which includes endourology and laparoscopy. He has helped spearhead a comprehensive program in the management of urinary stone disease at UCSF and is also certified by the American Board of Urology.