If you’ve ever suffered from kidney stones, you know how painful they can be. And if you have diabetes, you’re more likely to develop one or more cases of kidney stones. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic followed 3,500 patients over a 20-year span and concluded that those with diabetes developed 40% more uric acid kidney stones than those without the disease.
So if you have diabetes, what can you do to prevent getting kidney stones? The single biggest factor in the formation of kidney stones is diet. According to a large-scale study by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, those who followed a DASH diet were 40% to 45% less likely to develop kidney stones.
The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is primarily known for its ability to decrease high blood pressure (hypertension). The diet is comprised of foods low in saturated fat, total fat, cholesterol and sodium, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, fish and poultry. It is rich in protein and fiber, as well as the minerals potassium, magnesium, and calcium. The DASH diet limits foods such that are high in salt and added sugars, in addition to sugar-sweetened drinks and red and processed meats.
The results of the study were consistent among all participants – women, men, young, old, overweight, not overweight, diabetic, non-diabetic – they all experienced fewer kidney stones than their counterparts who did not follow a DASH diet.
Those who followed a DASH-style diet excreted greater amounts of urine than those who did not follow the diet, even though both groups drank similar amounts of fluid. Researchers believe this to be the case because of the higher water content in DASH diet foods, such as fruits and vegetables. In addition, the urine of DASH dieters was higher in citrate, which is known to prevent the formation of calcium-based kidney stones.
Following a healthful diet such as the DASH diet has a myriad of beneficial effects. Not only are fruits, vegetables and whole grains good for your heart health, but they can stave off kidney stones and their unpleasant side effects, as well.