For those who don’t know, kidney stones are tiny crystalline deposits that form in the kidney. They are made up of calcium, oxalate, and phosphate. While they can form in anyone, those who follow a vegan diet may be at a higher risk because of their lack of animal protein. Animal protein helps the body to break down and absorb calcium. Without it, calcium is more likely to bind with other substances and form any type of stone. So, let us look into the impacts of vegan diet and kidney stones.
So, how can vegans avoid this problem?
Limiting Calcium-Rich Foods
One way to prevent stones is to limit your intake of calcium-rich foods. This may seem counterintuitive, but hear us out. While calcium is an essential nutrient, too much of it can lead to stones. This is especially true if you’re not getting enough vitamin D, which helps the body to absorb calcium.
Good sources of calcium include dark leafy greens, tofu, fortified plant milk, and certain nuts and seeds. If you feel like you’re not getting enough calcium from your diet, talk to your doctor about whether or not you should take a supplement.
Increasing Oxalate-Rich Foods
It might seem strange to increase your intake of a substance that contributes to kidney stones but bear with us. Oxalate binds to calcium and prevents it from being absorbed by the body. This can lead to the formation of kidney stones. However, oxalate also has some benefits. It helps to promote gut health and protect against heart disease and cancer. Good sources of oxalate include spinach, beets, rhubarb, peanuts, and chocolate.
Drinking Plenty of Fluids
Staying hydrated is one of the best ways to prevent kidney stones. When you’re properly hydrated, your urine contains less concentrated levels of minerals and salts that can lead to stone formation. The best way to stay hydrated is to drink plenty of water throughout the day. You should also avoid dehydrating beverages like caffeine and alcohol.
Following a vegan diet comes with a lot of health benefits. However, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks as well. One such risk is kidney stones. Fortunately, there are things that vegans can do to decrease their risk.
By limiting calcium-rich foods, increasing oxalate-rich foods, and drinking plenty of fluids, vegans can keep their kidneys healthy and free from stones. So, if you’re thinking of going vegan or you’re already following a plant-based diet, be sure to keep these tips in mind!