5 Lifestyle Tips for Preventing Kidney Stones

Feb 12, 2024
It’s usually easier to prevent medical problems than treat them, and kidney stones are proof of that. Whether you’ve already suffered through a bout with kidney stones or you’re just worried about getting them — these lifestyle tips can help.

Every year in the United States, half a million people end up in the emergency room because of kidney stones. Up to 20% of kidney stones grow so large that they can only be eliminated with surgery. Fortunately, you can stop this problem long before it reaches that point — in fact, you can take steps to reduce your risk of developing kidney stones at all.  

At David B. Samadi, MD, in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, board-certified urologist Dr. David Samadi and our expert team specialize in diagnosing, treating, and preventing urinary system problems of all types.

We have years of expertise with kidney stones, which we put to work every day by helping our patients be proactive about prevention. Here, we’re exploring five effective lifestyle tips to help you avoid developing kidney stones.

1. Drink more water

Kidney stones happen when the waste products in your urine, such as calcium, uric acid, cystine, and struvite, clump together. Usually, the kidneys flush those chemicals out, which prevents stone growth. 

If you don’t have enough fluids in your body, however, your kidneys can’t do their job as efficiently. The result? Your urine becomes highly concentrated, leading to stone formation.

Drinking plenty of water throughout the day can significantly reduce your risk of getting kidney stones. The American Urological Association recommends drinking about 10 glasses of water or other liquids every day to prevent stone recurrence. Urine that’s mostly clear or pale yellow is a good indication of optimal hydration. 

2. Monitor your calcium intake

About 80% of kidney stones are made of calcium, so being careful about how much calcium you consume is a good preventive tip. While excess calcium can contribute to kidney stones, the National Kidney Foundation says that a low-calcium diet also increases your risk of kidney stones.

Our team can evaluate your nutritional intake and determine whether you need more or less calcium in your diet. The goal level for most people is about 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day. You can maintain this level through diet in most cases. Check with Dr. Samadi before you take any calcium supplements.

3. Monitor your oxalate intake

Your body creates most oxalates as a natural waste product, but they also come from 

the foods you eat. Some of the richest food sources of oxalates are leafy greens (like spinach), nuts, and cereal grains like bran. While they’re nutritional food choices, they can be damaging if you eat too much — especially if you’re prone to developing kidney stones. 

Oxalates can attach to calcium (calcium oxalate) and create kidney stones. In fact, about 80% of calcium kidney stones are actually calcium oxalate stones. Reducing your oxalate intake can work alongside your other lifestyle adjustments to help reduce the risk of kidney stones. 

4. Lower your intake of sodium

Too much sodium in your diet causes you to lose calcium through your urine faster than usual. This in turn lowers your calcium levels and can increase your kidney stone risk. Aim for less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day to help prevent kidney stones. 


Reducing your sodium intake also yields whole-person benefits, like lowering your blood pressure. Choosing reduced-sodium foods and avoiding processed foods can go a long way towards these goals.

5. Reduce animal proteins in your diet 

Animal proteins — mainly meats, like beef, chicken, pork, and some fish and shellfish — can increase your risk of developing several kinds of kidney stones. People on high-protein diets may experience more kidney stones as a result.

Reducing animal proteins doesn’t have to limit your protein overall. You can add protein sources like beans and lentils to create satisfying and healthy meals. 

Comprehensive care for kidney stones

Need help with kidney stone treatment or prevention? Dr. Samadi sees patients in our Central Midtown Manhattan office as well as at St. Francis Hospital and Heart Center in East Hills, New York (Long Island) once a week. Give us a call today, or connect with us through our easy online booking feature any time.