Keeping an eye on animal protein, a way to prevent kidney stones

Keeping an eye on animal protein, a way to prevent kidney stones


Kidney stones are a serious thing. Nowadays, more people in the United States seems to be prone to develop these unpleasant little crystals, that can cause unbearable pain and very uncomfortable feelings. In fact, statistics show that at least 10% of the population in the U.S. has had kidney stones at least once in their life.

There are many reasons why this happens, and in many circumstances, patients can work hard to improve their current condition. This is how they may try to exercise more regularly, consume more water and opt for healthier lifestyles. However, what many people don’t see is that a decisive factor for you to prevent kidney stones relies on your diet.

For those patients who have already had kidney stones, taking proper care of their diet becomes a crucial matter. In this case, watching out for the consumption of meat and animal protein is actually one of the most important things patients need to do.

It has been demonstrated that animal protein increases the odds of developing kidney stones. This protein may come in the shape of meat, dairy, eggs or milk. Usually, most individuals consume these types of foods several times a day, which is not the ideal thing to do when you want to prevent the formation of kidney stones.

Even though animal protein seems to be hard to give up, it is important for patients to keep a clear mindset and acknowledge that the reward behind not consuming animal protein is quite significant. Since they will be able to develop fewer kidney stones or no kidney stones at all. In this article, we will share some important facts related to the consumption of animal protein and the prevention of kidney stones.

Animal protein and your diet

Since the 1970’s, researchers have studied the correlation between kidney stones and the types of foods people have. Opposite to what many may believe, reducing the intake of magnesium or calcium oxalate didn’t actually have an impact on the formation of kidney stones. This is surprising, keeping in mind that many calculi are made of this substances.

What studies did show is that there is a close connection between the intake of animal protein and the prevention or development of kidney stones. The higher the amount of consumed animal protein is, the higher your chances of developing kidney stones are. Here, it is important to point out that not all proteins are bad for your kidneys (patients can have quinoa and beans without facing any risks). Animal proteins are the only ones that may affect your kidneys. (Pendick, 2013)

Adding more animal protein to your diet

Also, since the 1970’s researchers started to focus on a number of animal protein patients with kidney stones consumed. This way they noticed that if 34 grams of animal protein were added to the daily protein intake of a man for a short period of time, the chances of developing kidney stones increased significantly.

Apparently 34 grams of protein is not much (it can be three ounces of chicken breast or 8 slices of bacon), but in reality, they increased the risk of developing kidney stones in a 250%. The way researchers could identify this event was by measuring the concentration of oxalate, calcium, and nitrogen present in the urine.

Despite the fact that these studies took place almost 50 years ago, they are still valid. It was only three years ago, in 2015, when a population study was made. This time, vegetarians were the case of study, and 51,000 individuals were included in the study. Results showed that vegetarians had lower chances of having kidney stones than those who consumed animal protein regularly.

Meats that should be avoided

It is important to notice that not all meats may have the same impact on your kidneys. There are definitely some that can increase your odds faster and others that will gradually have an impact on your kidneys. However, it is important to point out that all bodies are different and may not always react in the same way to the consumption of animal protein.

On the other hand, not all animal proteins have the same effect on your kidneys. In fact, depending on the type of protein you eat, you will develop a type of stone. Fish, for instance, increases your odds of getting uric acid stones. Beef, on the contrary, increases your odds of getting any type of stones. Nevertheless, what is important to keep in mind here is that all sources of animal protein will increase your odds of developing kidney stones, even if it is just a little bit.

Image courtesy of Hamza Butt at

This means that even those vegetarians who can consume fish will also be prone to develop kidney stones. Having said that, the recommendation remains the same in order to prevent the formation of kidney stones: try to limit the amount of meat you eat as well as the dairy products and eggs. This will definitely help you avoid lots of pain.

Related: Five common myths about your diet and preventing kidney stones by Joe Cosgrove

* Featured Image courtesy of Beau Lebens at


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