Three steps towards fewer kidney stones

Just three basic steps can help most stone formers prevent future stones. Making these changes can help reduce your chance of having another stone by at least 50%. As a bonus, these changes have other health benefits above and beyond preventing kidney stones. For example, staying well hydrated can also make your skin look healthier, improve your alertness, and help with weight loss.

Step one: Increase your regular water intake by one liter a day. This is equivalent to two tall glasses or two typical 500ml grocery store water bottles. (One liter = 4.2 8-oz glasses or 34 oz).

Why?: By increasing your fluid intake, you reduce the concentration of your urine, making it less likely for stones to form. In fact, in a randomized study of kidney stone patients, patients who drank enough additional water to make an additional liter of urine over patients who drank their normal amount of fluid were 50% less likely to form another stone in the next five years.


Step 2: Avoid too much salt in you diet. For the general healthy population, your total daily salt intake should be only 2300 mg a day, equivalent to a teaspoon of table salt.

Why?: A high sodium intake can increase the amount of calcium excreted in your urine and decrease urinary citrate, making it more likely that you will form another stone. In a clinical trial of kidney stone patients, those who were instructed to take a low salt and low protein intake were less likely to form another stone than those who were told to reduce their calcium intake.

Step 3: Eat more healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables and less meat. Most adults should eat only 5 to 6 oz of protein daily.

Why?: A high protein intake will increase your calcium, oxalate, and uric acid excretion in your urine. All of these things will make it more likely for you to form another stone.

Not sure how much food contains 2300 mg of salt or 6 oz of protein? We didn’t either at first. Our page on dietary prevention of stones can help. It contains food equivalences information that makes it easier to understand these amounts in terms of real world food. We also have a handout which summarizes this information:







45 Responses to Three steps towards fewer kidney stones

  1. Martin Murphy says:

    In one site from the University of Chicago who researches oxalates in foods, states that blueberries and strawberries are low in oxalates at 2mg. per 1/2 cup while raspberries and oranges are high. Another site say quite the opposite in reference to blueberries and strawberries, but give concrete evidence as to their research methodology.

    I tend to believe the University of Chicago since several sites are contradictory. Outside of low meat protein, low salt, and fewer nuts, no spinach, almonds, etc. it can become confusing.

  2. Jake says:

    Does drinking beer help or hurt? I’d rather drink a quart of beer than a quart of water..

    Getting pain in my lower back on the right side. Seems to hit me when I’m golfing for some reason. The pain has gone away for now but after reading these articles I’m pretty sure I’m in the early stages of a stone.

  3. Joan says:

    google IP6 for kidney stones. I think it is working for stones in the kidney tissue.

  4. Leslie says:

    I have had flank pain and recently diagnosed with a small stone the the lower renal lobe. I was told that these stone do not cause pain—I disagree!!

  5. TLS says:

    Reading things like this is super frustrating! I drink tons of water, NEVER salt my food and am a vegan who eats many whole and unprocessed foods. Oh, I also don’t consume caffeine, artifical sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, gluten, Soy, alcohol or in general bad food. I still get kidney stones!

    I have had this diet for years just because I like to be healthy, not as a result of kidney stones. Some of us just have crap luck and suffer because we have something genetic that screws is over. I wish I knew why I produce stones, but the three reasons listed above in this article are not the reason why I produce them!

    • bunny says:

      I am sure you already know all this but from my experience I got kidney stones WHEN I turned vegan. Probably because I started supplementing with some vitamins. When I started researching after I had them I realized that when you get too much of something that your body can’t use, it ends up in your kidneys. I think all of the vitamins I was taking were really hard on my body. Also I always drank green tea and black tea, made a green smoothie every day and ate dark chocolate. All of those are high in oxalates. So my point is becoming healthy actually caused my stones. I would work with a doctor that can analyze everything from a food and supplement diary to a 24 urine analysis. It might be something you are overlooking. Good luck!

      • Tiani says:

        I’m a vegan, my mother eats nothing but carbs with sugar (no veg, high fat, lots of processed meat and foods), my uncle is practically a meatatarian, and my aunt follows a low FODMAPS diet because of her IBS. All of us have gotten kidney stones. When it’s hereditary, you are pretty much screwed.

  6. Richie says:

    I had a kidney stone removed April 2015. Had a stent placed for 2 weeks and was successfuly removed with minimal pain and till now no problems. The major reason for my stone was probably my heavy intake of pure vitamin C supplements. I dont know if its just my thought, but I sometimes feel small irritations in the kidney area and constantly worry if I formed a stone again. Can it be also that its just some pain or irritatiob related to uretral scaring due to the removal process or stent removal?

  7. Amreen Sheikh says:

    I am 8 months pregnant and I am having a 5 mm stone. Yesterday I have a major pain of kidney stone. What would i do now . I don’t want my child by surgery. Is there any way help me and my child.

  8. Donna says:

    Lemons. Eat lemons, lemon desserts, lemonade, and ALWAYS have lemon in your drinking water–ALWAYS! The reason being, as explained to me by my urologist after surgery to remove a 10mm stone that would NOT PASS, after 2.5 months of pain, and a horrible infection: The CITRATE in lemons will not allow the calcium stones to form. I use lemon, now, every chance I get!

    • Mike says:

      Thanks for this post. I reckon it’s the most informative yet. I’ve just had the stent put in and I wished to hell I could have gotten rid of the stones naturally. After they put that contraption up me, I’m peeing blood and it burns like I’ve never been burned. I’m drinking water with lemon juce and Apple cider vinegar and have just started taking chanca piedra (stone breaker) to try and dissolve the stones (3 of them) before the surgeon has me back to laser them in a couple of weeks. Either way, I have to have some contraption rammed up me at least one more time (to remove the stent) or perhaps two (to blast any stones that I don’t succeed in disolving my self) and I don’t mind admitting it scares the hell out of me to have to go through this again. Just the Cathoter was bad enough, but when it came out…Oh my god! Perhaps it get’s less painful? I don’t know, but I’m doing everything I can to never have to go through this again. As a truck driver, I’m just going to get out of the truck and pee if that’s what drinking enough means, Even if it’s on the main street. I don’t care anymore!

    • Lois W says:

      Citrus is bad for the enamel on your teeth so try to brush your teeth more often at least.

  9. shabasia says:

    ethey call me the stone maker, ive had kidney stones every other year since i was 15 these last two months ive got a stent put in laser lithro. surgery n now thitmrw i go get out the stent, i’ve never had a stent in this is the first for thst im 22 now but stones jus kum no matter wat diet i chosesum ppl bodies jus mske em. n mines like to flip flop i get em n my left then my right n its like cummon but ithrhurts sooo bad. but mibes were always 6mm and up the biggest was 10mm but i got the lithro. (laser) surgery evry time n if they cant collect a nice piece of that stone to test n see wat its made up of then they cant give u a specific diet to stick to to prevent.. but drink always drink

    • Christine Jacobson says:

      I can hardly read your entry due to the spelling, grammar, etc. I gave up.

      • GWnSC says:

        Christine: The reason you are having problems with shabasia’s post is because English is NOT their first language and they are doing the best they can to at least share something that might be helpful.

      • Lori says:

        Get a life Christine. Anyone with half a brain can get the entire jist of what they are saying. Shame on u and ur cruel remarks!

  10. Joshua T says:

    I am 23 years old, my first kidney stone episode happened when i was 17. i have had 9 so far in my life. i have changed my diet and salt/protein levels but nothing has stopped these calcium oxlate stones from forming. i have heavy scarring on my uter tube walls which causes even the tiny stones to hurt so much more. i wish i could find some sort of guidance my drs only tell me to change my diet which i have and lost 40 pounds i am now 140 pounds and scared for my next stone. how do you guys work with these and carry on? mine hurt so bad

    • Chris says:

      I just read about Brian who is in his 30’s and has suffered about 130 stones a year since he was 9. If you pray religiously, morning, noon and night and send up prayers as you are going about your day…to Jesus, He will heal you. He is standing by to help you. All you have to do ask, keep asking, do not stop asking until you are healed. Be persistent. I have seen the results in my own life and in that of my son’s. Get into on-line prayer groups. is a good one. Scroll to bottom and click on the prayer link. God bless.

      • Chad says:

        Chris, you are an idiot. Next time some horrible ailment befalls your household or someone breaks a bone or has a heart attack go ahead and try pray that away… Pray all the way to the funeral home.

      • Chelsea says:

        This is not helpful information. There are people of all different faiths and backgrounds here. Show some respect and don’t proselytize on a website aimed at helping people deal with kidney stones in a physiological way.

        • Steve with a 9mm KS says:

          Chelsea, what Chad says you might find offensive, but what I find offensive is some religious fanatic of any religion telling someone to ignore science and trust their particular God or Being to actually heal them physically. Praying may help you emotionally, but so does simple love and beautiful experiences. This Chris is stating that praying to his God will help, and that is not only impossible to prove, but totally misleading to someone in physical pain. Personally I find stretching helps tremendously.

  11. Daulatkhan Pathan. says:

    yesterday only urologist by performig uretroscopy and lithostripsy removed two stones from my lower ureter. this is my third surgery. and the stent is still in. Many advised me not to eat things like tomato,brinjal,leafy vegetables like spinach ,milk etc can anybody guide me about the food to be avoded


  12. Brian says:

    Does anyone know if eating protein bars will cause stones?? I usually eat x2 30gram protein bars per day. I just had to have a stone surgically removed and a stent put in. (Stent is out now after 5 days). Just curious of thoughts. Thanks.


    Derrick your side will always be sore after passing a stone as it cuts you up when passing. You may also be experiencing kidney colic.


    Hate predictive text. Just read what I wrote…should be ureter not jester! Geez.


    I have had stones since I was 37 & my first one was 12 x 12 mm. I have had surgery 2can a year EVERY year. My last one in April was so big it got stuck crowning my jester trying to pass. Surgery was painful-couldn’t be retrieved &Dr had to laser out. I have tried to change diet drink 1 1/2 gallons of water per day. I have Medullary soon get kidneys & my Dr says I have to deal with this till I die. The stress & anxiety waiting for yet another to drop is awful!!!

  16. Tara says:

    I have not found any prevention measures that help me so far. I have tried everything. I have even completely changed my diet and lost 50lbs. I am still suffering from these evil little things. In October of 2012, I had an 8mm removed via lithotripsy. Everything was going good until March of 2013. I passed a 3mm and two weeks later a 6mm was found via ct scan. I had the 6mm removed on June 4th 2013. I am currently passing a 3 mm. I really wish these things would go away!!!

  17. Roseann says:

    I had a large kidney stone removed surgically in April. Had a stent in for two weeks and it was removed in my doctor’s office at the post surgical follow up visit. No pain at all since then. Only thing now is that I have edema in my ankles and fingers, which I never had before the surgery. There’s no blockage, my blood and urine tests came back perfect. No kidney problems at all. My blood pressure is normal and no heart problems. I’m in good shape except for this edema. My husband thinks it’s toxins after surgery that need to be flushed out. Does anyone else have this? I’d appreciate any feedback.

  18. Chris says:

    Hi,great site to read over whilst in hospital! Helped me a lot ..
    I’ve had 2 stents removed this week (4 days ago) have a kidney and bladder full of stones
    Largest one is 12 mm x 10 mm ( wow) how will that ever pass?!?!

    Q-why is the blood plus drops of urine and some yellow gunk dripping out my penis still?
    As I am lying here in bed it keeps happening,?

    Does anyone know?

    Also-does cranberry juice really help?

    Any help is a help!

    • Carolyn says:

      Chris I had the same thing, only I’m female. I noticed that blood droplets with what seemed to be clear pus in my strainer. It’s amazing how your body can treat you sometimes. (yuck)!

    • I suffer from calcium oxalate stones as a result of medullary sponge kidney (MSK). In my case, I have found that cranberry juice causes more stones, which is likely due to the high oxalate level (13.2mg per 8 oz). I used to drink a lot of cranberry juice and it only aggravated things.

      I tried it a number of times when I had some very painful stones and it only made it worse. Water with lemon is a good thing for me, as it has the potassium citrate that helps prevent stone formation.

      I hope that helps!

  19. I had a stent put in yesterday because the stone I have is 1CM. Biggest one yet.
    I never want to go through the pain of having a stent put in again, so i will begin to
    do what I should have been doing over the yrs, drinking more water, less salt.

  20. lalita lenka says:

    my daughter is twelve months pregant she has been ditected with mutiple kidney stones can u help me to what i can do and please also tell me what she should eat and what not we are indian non veg pople

  21. larry kelley says:

    merry christmas, i just passed my 3mm stone @ 940;am 12/19/12 what a presant that was good luck with all you holders drink a lot of water & cranberry juice. wish all a merry christ & a happy new year. larry from milford oh.

  22. larry kelley says:

    merry christmas, i just passed my 3mm stone on 940;am 12/19/12 what a presant that was good luck with all you holders drink a lot of water & cranberry juice

  23. derrock says:

    i found i had a 7 mm kidney stone, and i get afflicting oppinions from different doctors, some says it small other says its big. i think i passed it ,i i saw something in my strainer. brown but im stil waiing for the results after passing should your side be sore

  24. Daniel Landry says:


    I hope you’re feeling better. I had a kidney stent removed on June 14th and had to keep the lortab handy as I was having severe muscle spasms for two days afterwards. I didn’t have any of the symptoms you’re describing, but I definitely sympathize with you. Did the doctor comment on the symptoms?


  25. Daniel Vallejo says:

    had a kidney stent, removed about a week ago, having sinus problems, burning feeling little stomach pain, little back pain,it’s the normal.

    • Daniel Vallejo says:

      had a kidney stent removed about a week ago, feeling bloated, little back pain, sinus problem, warm burning in my stomach.

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