WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Women who consume a diet higher in fiber, fruits and vegetables may gain protection against developing kidney stones compared to women that have a lower intake of these foods.
WHAT WE KNOW
The occurrence of kidney stones has been on the rise over the past 15 years.1 One in eleven people will suffer from kidney stones in their lifetime. Kidney stones are hard deposits that form in the kidney and are typically excreted in the urine (sometimes painfully) or otherwise surgically removed.2 The exact cause of kidney stones is unknown; however, some people are genetically prone to developing them, while other people develop stones because of diet, infection, or dehydration. Research is ongoing to find the cause but a new study suggests that increasing fiber, fruit and vegetable intake may offer protection against developing kidney stones, in postmenopausal women.
HOW WE KNOW THIS
A recently published study reviewed food frequency questionnaires of 83,992 women, average age of 64, to evaluate the formation of kidney stones with association to fiber, fruit, or vegetable intake over an eight-year period.3 The researchers discovered that women with no history of prior stones had a:
- 22% decreased risk of kidney stone formation with a higher intake of dietary fiber
- 15% reduction of developing kidney stones with a higher fruit intake
- 22% less chance of having kidney stones with a greater intake of vegetables
The difference in intake where benefits were found vs. no benefit is about two additional portions of fruit and two additional portions of vegetables a day, and an increase in 12 grams of fiber per day. This means that postmenopausal women should be aiming for the recommended 22 grams of fiber a day and making half their plate fruits and veggies at every eating occasion.
Interestingly, this study also concluded that women with a history of kidney stones did not have a decreased risk of developing more stones. However, in the 3,471 women assessed in the study that had a history of kidney stones, they were found to have lower intakes of fiber, fruits and vegetables when their diets were analyzed.
WHY THIS MATTERS
Although more research is needed on younger women, men, and different ethnicities, kidney stones can be a debilitating illness that results in medical expenses and missed days at work. Decreasing your risk by simply increasing daily fiber, fruit and vegetable intake to recommended levels is a simple, affordable solution for preventing them.
To increase your daily intake of fiber, fruits and vegetables, try …
- Make at least half your plate fruits and vegetables at every meal.
- Swap out soda for 100% fruit juice or make a smoothie with fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Combine food groups to gain fiber and increase intake of produce: carrots & hummus, apples & peanut butter, dried fruit and nuts.
- Enjoy a bowl of oatmeal for the morning and spruce it up with fruit & nuts.
- Use whole-wheat pastas and make yummy sauces chock-full of vegetables. Or add more fiber by substituting pasta for spaghetti squash.
- Toss spinach, kale, or chard leaves into soups and stews.
- Add beans to entrées, salads and side dishes for extra fiber.
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