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Which fruit juice is good for kidney stones?

Kidney stones are hard deposits made of minerals and salts that form inside your kidneys. They develop when there is an imbalance in the concentration of certain substances in your urine, such as calcium, oxalate and phosphorus. Small stones may pass naturally through your urinary tract without causing symptoms, but larger ones can block urine flow and cause severe pain.

Making dietary changes is one way to help prevent kidney stones from forming in the first place. Some research suggests that drinking certain fruit juices may help dissolve kidney stones or prevent them from forming.

Citrus Juices

Citrus fruits, including oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes, contain good amounts of citric acid. This acidic environment may help prevent kidney stones from forming and help dissolve those that have already formed.

One study found that drinking lemon juice mixed with water decreased urinary calcium levels in healthy women. High urinary calcium is a major risk factor for kidney stone formation.

Another study showed that consuming just over half a cup (4 oz or 118 ml) of lemon juice concentrate diluted in 2 liters of water per day for nearly four years decreased the rate of stone formation from 1 stone every 3 years to just 1 stone every 6 years.

Additionally, some research shows that lemon juice inhibits the growth of the crystal-forming minerals that lead to kidney stone development.

Given that citrus juices, especially lemon juice, may help prevent kidney stones, drinking them in moderation is recommended.

Pomegranate Juice

Pomegranate juice is a polyphenol-rich fruit juice that may help slow the growth of calcium stones, which are the most common type of kidney stones.

One study showed that drinking 8 oz (240 ml) of pomegranate juice daily significantly lowered calcium oxalate levels in urine samples over a 2-week period, compared to placebo.

Higher urinary calcium oxalate levels are linked to an increased risk of calcium stones forming in your kidneys.

Animal studies further demonstrate pomegranate juice’s ability to reduce kidney stone formation and damage caused by high oxalate levels.

While more research is needed, current evidence indicates drinking 8–12 oz (240–360 ml) of pomegranate juice per day may aid in preventing kidney stones.

Apple and Pear Juice

Apple and pear juice contain high levels of potassium and magnesium, which are tied to a lower risk of kidney stone formation.

One study gave people with kidney stones either apple juice or a placebo juice while treating them with shock wave lithotripsy, a technique that breaks stones into small pieces so they can pass easily.

Those given the apple juice had significantly higher urinary magnesium and potassium levels and lower urinary oxalate excretion than those given the placebo juice.

Higher potassium intake increases urinary citrate, another factor that protects against kidney stones. Moreover, magnesium binds to oxalate in your gut, preventing it from being absorbed into your body and then excreted by your kidneys.

Drinking 3–4 cups (710–950 ml) of apple or pear juice daily may help provide kidney stone protection, mostly due to their potassium and magnesium content.

Grape Juice

Grape juice made from Concord grapes is rich in potassium. Just like apple and pear juice, it may prevent kidney stones by increasing citrate levels in your urine and improving magnesium uptake in your digestive system.

A rat study found that drinking Concord grape juice increased urinary potassium and citrate levels, which favored kidney stone prevention.

However, more studies are needed to understand how grape juice affects risk factors for kidney stone formation in humans. Yet with its high potassium levels, it may favorably influence urinary chemistry.

Other Potentially Beneficial Juices

Here are some other juices that may help prevent kidney stones, though more research is needed on their efficacy:

  • Cranberry juice: Very high in potassium, may increase urinary citrate.
  • Black currant juice: May inhibit kidney stone growth and muscle damage from high oxalate levels.
  • Wheatgrass juice: Contains chlorophyllin, which may reduce urinary oxalate levels.
  • Papaya juice: Contains an enzyme called papain which may aid digestion and keep kidney stones from forming.

Juices to Avoid

Some juices may increase your risk of developing kidney stones. These include:

  • Grapefruit juice: Naturally high in oxalates, so it can contribute to kidney stone formation.
  • Spinach or beet juice: Also contain high amounts of oxalates.
  • Cola: Phosphoric acid in colas promotes kidney stone formation.
  • Orange juice: While the citric acid may inhibit kidney stones, it also contains high amounts of oxalates.

If you are prone to developing kidney stones, you may want to moderate your intake of these juices.

The Bottom Line

Lemon, pomegranate, apple, pear and Concord grape juice have the most scientific evidence supporting their use for preventing kidney stones and improving urinary chemistry.

However, cranberry, black currant, wheatgrass and papaya juice may offer some benefits as well. On the other hand, avoiding grapefruit, spinach, beet, cola and orange juice may be best for those susceptible to kidney stones.

Drinking a combination of juices high in citrates, magnesium and potassium daily may be helpful for lowering your risk of developing calcium-containing kidney stones.

How Much Juice Should You Drink to Prevent Kidney Stones?

There’s no consensus on the optimal total juice intake or combination of juices to prevent kidney stones.

However, studies seem to agree that drinking around 8–12 oz (240–360 ml) of lemon, pomegranate, apple, pear, Concord grape or a combination of these juices per day may offer benefits.

The wide range is likely because the amount needed depends on the specific chemical composition of the juice regarding citrate, oxalate, potassium, magnesium and other compounds.

Juice recommendations can also vary based on your gender, age, weight, medical conditions, medications and urine chemistry.

To get the most benefits, opt for unsweetened varieties over juice cocktails high in added sugars, which may increase kidney stone risk.

Should You Take Juice Concentrates?

Some companies sell lemon or other fruit juice concentrates you mix with water as a supplement. These are meant to provide higher amounts of beneficial compounds than you would get from regular strength juice.

For instance, 10 oz (300 ml) of concentrated lemon juice per day provides around 1,500 mg of citric acid, while the same amount of single-strength lemon juice provides just 190 mg.

Some studies used concentrates successfully to prevent kidney stones. However, it’s unclear if taking these supplements long term is safe due to their highly acidic nature.

While using lemon juice concentrates under medical supervision may be helpful, simply drinking lemon juice provides benefits without the risks.

Other Tips to Prevent Kidney Stones

Here are some other evidence-based ways to prevent kidney stones in addition to drinking beneficial juices:

  • Increase your fluid intake, including water and other healthy beverages.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet that isn’t too high in salt, meat, sugar or oxalates.
  • Get enough calcium daily from food sources like yogurt, cheese and leafy greens.
  • Reduce sodium intake to 2,300 mg per day or lower if possible.
  • Limit animal protein, which increases calcium and uric acid excretion.
  • Manage medical conditions like diabetes, obesity and hyperparathyroidism.
  • Take medications as prescribed if you have increased kidney stone risk.

Making smart dietary choices and optimizing your fluid intake can go a long way in preventing kidney stones.

Possible Downsides to Drinking Fruit Juice

While small amounts of certain juices may reduce kidney stone risk, larger amounts don’t necessarily provide greater benefits.

Juices high in oxalate could do more harm than good for those prone to kidney stones. What’s more, fruit juice is high in sugars like fructose and glucose that may promote stone development when in excess.

Increased juice intake can also make conditions like diabetes, obesity and tooth decay worse.

Additionally, some juices contain fructans, fermentable carbohydrates that can cause unpleasant digestive symptoms in those sensitive to them.

For these reasons, moderation is key. Opt for whole fruits over juices whenever possible and limit total juice intake to 8–12 oz (240–360 ml) per day, along with plenty of water.

The Bottom Line

Drinking 8–12 oz (240–360 ml) per day of certain juices like lemon, pomegranate, apple and Concord grape may help prevent kidney stones. Just be sure to rotate types of juice to avoid going overboard on any single one.

Combining juices with other healthy kidney stone prevention habits can further decrease your risk.

However, those with kidney disease or on kidney stone prevention medication should check with their healthcare provider before increasing intake of any juices.

When to Seek Medical Care

Making dietary modifications like drinking kidney-stone-fighting juices can often manage symptoms for people with small stones. However, seeing a healthcare provider is recommended in several situations:

  • You’re experiencing signs of a kidney infection like fever, chills, nausea or pain in your back, side or groin
  • You have severe nausea, vomiting or intense pain that medication does not relieve
  • Your stones are causing persistent urine blockages
  • You’ve had recurring kidney stones
  • You have underlying kidney disease
  • You have a single kidney or reduced kidney function
  • Your stones are larger than 5 mm
  • You’re pregnant and have kidney stones
  • You have certain medical conditions like hyperparathyroidism or medullary sponge kidney

Seeking prompt medical care is crucial for preventing serious complications when kidney stones are causing severe symptoms, recurring or larger in size.

The Bottom Line

Making dietary changes like drinking beneficial juices in moderation may help prevent kidney stones. However, seek medical care if you have severe symptoms, recurrent stones or an underlying condition.

Working with a healthcare provider to manage kidney stones is important, as they can recommend medication, dietary changes and other tailored treatments based on your situation.

Conclusion

In summary, research indicates that drinking moderate amounts of certain fruit juices like lemon, pomegranate, apple, pear, Concord grape and cranberry juice may aid kidney stone prevention.

They provide beneficial compounds like citrate, magnesium and potassium that improve urine chemistry and may help stop kidney stones from forming.

Juice concentrates in small doses may offer advantages, but eating whole fruits and drinking plenty of fluids are still the healthiest ways to stay hydrated and prevent kidney stones overall.