Kidney Stones and the Atkins Diet

John from Riverside asked: â??Iâ??ve heard some nasty rumors that low-carb high-protein diets like the Atkins Diet can cause kidney stones. Is this true? Can you really get kidney stones from diets like this?â?

John, this is an excellent question and there has been a great deal of controversy concerning this topic. And unfortunately, most evidence does point to low carb diets being contributors to kidney stones.

Because low-carb high-protein diets put an emphasis on eating lots of meat, you may be more susceptible to developing kidney stones. Let me explain: animal proteins have been shown to increase oxalate in urinary excretion. Oxalate is a compound that combines with calcium and other compounds to form kidney stones.  Because of the excess calcium your blood produces while on the Atkins Diet, you may have an even greater chance of oxalate combining with your excess calcium to produce kidney stones. An excess of calcium alone over a prolonged period of time may cause kidney stones to develop.

Unfortunately, in 2003, 11% of people who complained of problems on the Atkins Diet experienced kidney stones, and another 11% experienced other kidney problems.

The news gets even worse for young women. You may be asking yourself, â??Huh? Young women donâ??t get kidney stones!â? And youâ??re rightâ?¦usually. Since the low-carb craze has begun, the percentage of young women developing kidney stones has sky-rocketed.

Now, before you all start swearing off the Atkins Diet, there is some good news. There has been very minimal research on this subject. Almost all of the information we know on this subject has been based on personal accounts-not scientific study. We do, however, know that there can be an increased risk. But this does not in any way mean that because you start the Atkins Diet, youâ??re going to get kidney stones next week.

If you are still concerned about developing kidney stones, you may want to do some research on your own. Let us know what you find. Good luck!

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