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Can Keto Diet Cause Kidney Stones?

The Keto diet (Ketogenic) is one of the most popular diets the world over. The diet helps with successful weight loss and can improve health. The Keto diet can control blood sugar levels in Type 2 Diabetes and is credited with having a positive impact on such medical conditions as epilepsy and Alzheimer’s Disease. Currently there are numerous medical trials taking place to see what other diseases can benefit from the use of the Keto Diet. With so many positive reports, is it true that the Keto Diet can cause kidney stones?

What is the Keto diet?

The Keto Diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet. The number of carbs consumed each day is less than 50g, but a high level of fat is included in the diet instead. The body needs carbohydrates to burn for energy, but when it finds that it doesn’t have any, it starts to burn fat instead. This change puts the body into the metabolic state called ‘ketosis’ and the body very efficiently burns fat to produce energy. When the body is in ‘ketosis’ it also converts fat into ketones in the liver and these are used by the brain for energy.

The key to success with the Keto diet is keeping the body in the state of ketosis which ensures that fat is being used for energy and this results in weight loss. Many people on the diet also say that they have more energy and greater mental clarity.

How can there be a risk of kidney stones?

Meat, cheese, and eggs are all good foods to eat when on the Keto diet, but eating a much larger amount of animal products does increase the risk of developing kidney stones. This is because eating these foods alters your blood and urine, making them both much more acidic. This in turn can lead to a higher level of calcium in your urine and this is what can clog together to form kidney stones. Some researchers have also found that some people following this diet have less citrate in their urine, which can cause problems as it is citrate that deals with the calcium and stops it from forming into stones. People suffering from chronic kidney disease should not follow the Keto diet, but it is generally recommended that anyone planning to start the diet should discuss this through with their doctor first.

How to avoid developing kidney stones

Prevention is definitely better than cure as only the smallest kidney stones can be pass through the body naturally. If you are following the Keto diet, you may well not suffer from kidney stones, but it is a good idea to follow these four rules to keep you in good health.

  • Drink plenty of water – keeping your body well hydrated is always a good thing and is particularly important in hot weather, during physical activity, or when you are having a sauna.
  • Don’t sprinkle salt on your food or use sodium bicarbonate, monosodium glutamate (MSG) as these stimulate the kidneys to discharge more calcium into the urine. Most foods already contain salt and the kidneys should be allowed to process calcium at their normal rate.
  • Spinach, rhubarb, tea, and many types of nuts contain oxalate which can, in some people, increase the chances of developing kidney stones. You do not have to avoid these foods but moderation is the keyword.
  • Don’t take a high-dose vitamin C tablet, try and get as much of the vitamin as you can naturally – this can be a challenge on the Keto where little fruit is consumed.

The Keto diet can certainly be an effective way to get in shape and keep in shape, but the important point to remember is that it could increase your risk of having kidney stones – whilst the jury is out, making its decision, its best to play safe and keep yourself well hydrated.

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