Kidney stones are solid masses of crystal. They can be incredibly painful and somewhat frightening. Staying hydrated is a crucial way to stop kidney stones or even treat them once they happen. Still, drinks for kidney stones aren’t all created equal.
You need to choose carefully, as some drinks will even make matters worse. For example, cola and coffee can be a problem as they may dehydrate you, which increases your risk of kidney stones.
Similarly, keep an eye on drinks that are high in fat, like smoothies, Bulletproof coffee, and many drinks from Starbucks. Sticking to a low fat diet is often recommended as a way to decrease the risk of calcium stones, so high fat drinks could be a bad decision.
The drinks featured in this list, on the other hand, can help to keep you hydrated and healthy. Some decrease the risk of kidney stones in other ways too.
Table of Contents
Drinks for Kidney Stones
- Soda Water
- Basil Juice
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Coconut Water
- Orange Juice
- Pomegranate Juice
- Ginger Ale
- Lemon-Lime Soda
- Diet Soda
- Celery Juice
- Beer and Wine
- Coffee and Tea
- Herbal Teas
Staying hydrated helps to keep kidney stones at bay and, if you do have a kidney stone, then drinking water can help you to pass it more easily. The color of your urine is a good indication here. It should be pale yellow, and dark yellow urine is a strong signal of dehydration.
While many drinks help you to stay hydrated, water is top of the list as it is so accessible. Besides, water doesn’t contain any calories. It’s a much better choice than relying on calorie-laden beverages to try and keep hydrated.
If you find water a bit boring and difficult to drink on its own, you can try adding some type of flavor. Look for natural options, like squeezing a little juice into your water or making infused water.
With infused water, you’re simply slicing up various types of fruit and leaving them in your water for at least a few hours. Some vegetables, like cucumber, work well too, along with some types of herbs.
Adding juice to water is even simpler. While you can use almost any type of fruit juice, lemon juice is by far the best choice. This will give you lemon water, which is often promoted for its potential health benefits.
Lemon juice also contains citrate, an important chemical that helps to break down small kidney stones and reduce the likelihood of stone formation.
Sugary soda is sometimes linked to kidney stone formation, but soda water doesn’t have the same effect. Other types of sparkling water tend to be safe too, including seltzer water and sparkling mineral water.
This isn’t too surprising. After all, you’re just drinking water with carbonation.
Once again, if the water is boring on its own, try adding a little flavor. Even a splash of pomegranate juice or cranberry juice in your sparkling water could make it much more enjoyable.
Basil juice is less common than some of the other options that we’ve featured on this list. It’s also a powerful idea, as it may help decrease pain and break down your kidney stones. The effect is partly due to the acetic acid found in basil.
Basil doesn’t contain much water, so you can’t juice it per se. But, you can make a type of tea by steeping basil leaves in hot water. You could also get some benefits by using basil as an ingredient in smoothies or even infused water.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar won’t help you to stay hydrated. It does, however, contain acetic acid. As we mentioned before, this type of acid can help dissolve some types of kidney stones. The vinegar might even lower the risk of kidney stone formation too.
While research into apple cider vinegar and kidney stones is limited, this isn’t enough of a reason to avoid apple cider vinegar entirely. After all, the vinegar has been linked to many different benefits. Even if only some of those claims are accurate, apple cider vinegar could easily help improve your health.
It’s best to mix the vinegar into water or another type of liquid, rather than drinking it straight. Otherwise, you could damage your throat or your tooth enamel too. Be sure to watch your portions. A tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar should be all you need. More than this may have side effects.
Anyone on medication or with a health condition should check with their doctor before drinking apple cider vinegar. This is especially true if you have diabetes, as the vinegar may affect your blood sugar levels.
Lemon juice helps to decrease kidney stone risk, so it’s not surprising that lemonade does as well. Lemonade might seem less desirable than lemon juice, as it can be high in sugar.
If you’re concerned about that, try making homemade lemonade. Doing so gives you full control over the ingredients and the sugar content.
Having some sugar in your lemonade isn’t a bad thing anyway. The sweetness makes lemonade easy to drink, so getting the amount you need isn’t stressful at all.
You can even make whole lemon lemonade, where you include the peel in the recipe along with everything else. This approach may provide more health benefits, but it won’t appeal to everyone, as you get a bitter taste from the lemon pith.
Coconut water is sometimes seen as a natural sports drink. Just like a sports drink, it contains electrolytes that may help you to rehydrate faster. The potassium in coconut water may help too, as it can make your urine more alkaline.
Plus, coconut water contains less sugar than most sugar-sweetened sports drinks and sodas, and has less sugar than fruit juice as well. This outcome is crucial if you’re paying attention to your sugar intake or are trying to lose weight.
While coconut water can be helpful, regular sports drinks aren’t a good idea. They often contain added sugar and much more sodium than coconut water. The sugar and sodium are exactly what you don’t want in terms of kidney stones.
Orange juice and lemonade have similar benefits to each other. Both contain citrate, which reduces the risk of kidney stone formation. The drinks are even more powerful for people who can’t tolerate potassium citrate supplements.
The citrate content of orange juice and lemonade is similar, but orange juice seems to be more effective at preventing kidney stones. It also tends to be less processed. Just be sure to make or buy fresh orange juice, rather than juice made from concentrate.
Also, avoid anything labeled as ‘orange drink’. Such products are usually highly processed and don’t qualify to use the name juice on their packaging. Not surprisingly, these products aren’t great for your health.
Pomegranates are a delicious fruit. They’re often promoted for their antioxidant content. These antioxidants may be relevant to kidney stones too, reducing the risk of kidney stone formation.
The juice can have other benefits, like making your urine less acidic and keeping your hydrated. Both effects could lower the risk of kidney stones.
As is often the case, there’s limited evidence of reduced kidney stone formation. Still, pomegranate juice is delicious, so why not enjoy it regularly?
This one might catch you by surprise. Getting plenty of calcium in your diet is an important way to avoid calcium oxalate stones. This is because the stones aren’t created by calcium itself, but by a combination of calcium and oxalate. Decreasing sodium intake can help with calcium levels too, as too much sodium can lead to more calcium in your urine.
Milk is one of the easiest ways to get more calcium in your diet. You can include it in a recipe or simply drink a glass of low fat milk at mealtimes. Some types of plant-based milk may help too, as manufacturers may add calcium to give the drink a milk-like nutrient profile.
While sugary drinks aren’t the best option for your health, some are better than others. Keeping caffeine intake low could be important for decreasing kidney stone risk. That makes drinks like ginger beer and ginger ale useful choices.
Ginger has other benefits too. It’s well-known for helping to reduce nausea and tastes good too.
Lemon-lime soda is another type to consider. Like ginger beer, this type of soda doesn’t contain caffeine. Soda is mostly water anyway, so it can help to hydrate you.
This type of soda is also promoted because it offers some citrate. The chemical is why orange juice, lemonade, and lemon water are relevant for kidney stones too.
While there should be some citrate in lemon-lime soda, the amount will be lower than in more natural drinks. Sodas that use artificial flavors might not have any citrate at all.
Drinks like lemon-lime soda and ginger ale are often included on lists of safe drinks if you have a kidney stone or want to keep your risk low. Still, the drinks aren’t as good as most others that we’ve featured on this list.
After all, soda doesn’t offer many nutrients and tends to be high in sugar. Some studies even link sugar-sweetened sodas with kidney stone formation, so you’ll need to keep an eye on your intake.
In the end, ginger ale and lemon-lime soda are better choices than coffee and cola, but they shouldn’t be your go-to drink. Focus on water or infused water most of the time and keep sugary drinks as an occasional indulgence.
Diet soda could be more helpful than sugar-sweetened soda. This way you’re still getting an enjoyable drink that helps to hydrate you, but you’re not consuming excess sugar. Diet versions of citrus soft drinks are the best choice, as these tend to be caffeine free and may contain citrate.
Of course, diet soda is controversial. Some people are concerned about the added ingredients, particularly artificial sweeteners, and their long-term health impacts. If this is the case for you, options like soda water, infused water, and coconut water are more natural ways to stay hydrated.
Celery has a surprisingly long history in traditional medicine. It’s also well-recognized as a healthy vegetable. Celery juice is easy to make, making it an attractive alternative to the other items on this list. You can simply blend the vegetable with some water and drink the combination throughout the day.
The drink isn’t just hydrating. Celery is also thought to help your body detox – an effect that could reduce kidney stone risk.
However, this is another drink that you need to be cautious with. Don’t drink celery juice if your blood pressure is low or you have a bleeding disorder. Compounds in celery can interact with some types of medication too, so check with your doctor first if you are on any medication.
Beer and Wine
Excessive alcohol consumption can increase kidney stone risk, especially if you end up hungover and dehydrated. But interestingly, moderate consumption of beer and wine can notably lower your kidney stone risk.
This isn’t just an absurd claim either. It’s backed up by research.
To get this effect, you’ll need to closely watch your alcohol consumption and make sure you don’t get dehydrated.
Coffee and Tea
Here’s another interesting addition. Coffee and tea are normally seen as bad choices for kidney stones because of their caffeine content. This is why we suggested choosing lemon-lime soda rather than cola.
The problem is that caffeine is a diuretic, so it promotes water loss (as does alcohol). But, the same study we referenced above found that coffee and tea consumption can decrease kidney stone formation rather than increase it.
There’s a good reason for this too.
While caffeine does act as a diuretic, our bodies quickly become tolerant to this effect, so the diuretic effect decreases over time. Plus, coffee and tea both contain a decent amount of water. Even if you lose some water because of the diuretic effect, a cup of coffee still gives you a net gain of liquid.
Some studies also show that green tea can decrease the risk of kidney stones.
However, you do need to be careful with tea, as it can be high in oxalates. This means that excessive tea consumption could increase risk of kidney stones.
Oxalates and caffeine are the main reasons why too much tea could lead to kidney stone formation. Most herbal teas don’t have either of these issues. This makes them much safer choices, especially if you are drinking tea regularly.
Plus, there are countless types of herbal tea and herbal tea blends to choose from. Many of these offer other health benefits as well.