For a rare minority of patients the risk of stones is due to metabolic problems that need specific evaluation and treatment. For the majority of stone formers genetic and environmental factors inter-relate to change the risk of stone formation.
It has been estimated your genetic background is responsible for around 50% of the risk for kidney stones and there is nothing that you can do to alter this. However, the other 50% of the risk is due to environmental factors such as diet, fluid intake, and obesity.
Advice can be tailored for individuals but below is some general advice that will help most stone formers to reduce their risk of forming stones.
Being overweight is a significant risk factor for kidney stones. Several studies have demonstrated that patients with increased body mass index (= weight in kg divided by height in metres squared i.e. kg/m2) have a higher risk of stones. Obesity also makes stones harder to treat: there are greater risks of having and anaesthetic and it is more difficult to target stones with lithotripsy.
Aim to get your wieght into a normal range for your height.
Most people are dehydrated. As we lead increasingly busy lives, live in airconditioned/heated environments, lose water in during exercise and long haul flights we are chronically dehydrated.
Increasing fluid intake has been shown to reduce stone recurrence. Aim for 2-3 litres a day. As a guide your urine should be colourless rather than orange or dark yellow.
Diet also contributes to your risk of stone formation. For your general health and for your risk of kidney stone formation you should have a well-balanced diet and avoid an excessive amount of calories. This means that the diet should include fresh fruits, salads and vegetables, low fat dairy produce, and whole grain products such as bread or cereals. You should limit your meat consumption (<100g (4oz) /day) as animal protein is a risk factor. You should aim for a high fibre diet, although wheat bran should be avoided due to its high content of oxalate. Finally, a diet low in salt is important.
For more detail please download our diet advice sheet for stone formers: