DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The diet is believed to lower blood pressure and improve kidney health. According to Beck, the goal is to eat two to three servings of low-fat dairy products, four to five servings of vegetables, and four to five servings of fruit, every day. The dietitian also suggests choosing 100 percent whole-grain foods and to include nuts and beans in your diet four times a week.
Adequate fluid intake helps flush away substances that can cause crystals to form in the kidneys. If you've already had a kidney stone, drink 12 cups (three liters) of water in divided doses throughout the day. In hot weather, drink an additional two to four cups to make up for fluid lost through sweating.
Although foods don't contribute much oxalate to the urine, studies do show that spinach, rhubarb, nuts, chocolate, tea, wheat bran and strawberries increase oxalate excretion the most. These should be avoided if you're at risk for calcium oxalate kidney stones.
For years, the standard prescription for calcium-containing kidney stones has been a low-calcium diet. However, restricting dietary calcium is no longer recommended. Many studies have found that eating a calcium-rich diet -- such as the DASH diet -- is associated with a lower risk of kidney-stone formation. If you don't get all your calcium from food, take a supplement. Since calcium reduces the absorption of oxalate from foods, take your calcium supplement with, rather than apart from, meals.
Overeating protein-rich foods such as meat, poultry, fish and eggs can increase the amount of calcium excreted in the urine. Keep your meat and poultry portions to three ounces (90 grams). Substitute vegetable protein such as beans and nuts, since these may reduce the risk of kidney stones.
Studies suggest that being overweight or obese increases the risk of kidney stones. Excess weight is linked with altered acidity of the urine and higher uric acid levels in the blood, two factors that can trigger stone formation.
Large amounts of vitamin C can increase the risk of calcium oxalate since the vitamin is converted to oxalate in the body. If you have had a calcium oxalate kidney stone, don't take high-dose vitamin C supplements (500 to 1,000 milligrams). Instead, focus on getting your vitamin C from foods such as citrus fruit, kiwi, mango, cantaloupe, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and bell peppers.
For more information, visit www.lesliebeck.com.
Watch the success story of Trudy Thome while on the DASH Diet and learn how it changed her life.
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