Bananas to Help Prevent Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are the most prevalent urinary tract disorder in the United States, affecting over 1 million Americans every year, according to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. This painful condition occurs when a mass forms in the kidneys due to highly concentrated matter in the urine. Stones slowly develop over months or years and are composed of various minerals, such as calcium, uric acid and oxalate. The University of Maryland Medical Center advises against treating kidney stones with alternative therapies, but the center does recommend following nutritional guidelines to prevent them from recurring 1.

Causes and Symptoms

Kidney stones are mineral crystallizations caused by an imbalance of nutrients in your urine. They are often the result of absorbing too much calcium, consuming excess calcium or other minerals, intestinal problems, urinary tract infection or genetics. The most prevalent type of stone is calcium oxalate formed from excess calcium and oxalate in your urine. Calcium phosphate stones result from low-acid urine, while uric acid stones occur from urine that’s too acidic. Symptoms of kidney stones include severe and sudden pain in your backside, abdominal pain and pain in the genital area, nausea and vomiting, fever and chills.

Potassium in Bananas

If you excrete a lot of calcium in your urine, you are at risk for calcium-containing kidney stones, according to the Linus Pauling Institute 2. A lack of potassium in your diet increases how much calcium you excrete, putting you at risk for kidney stones. By boosting potassium in your diet, you can minimize how much calcium you expel. The adequate intake of potassium is partly based on the amount needed to reduce your risk of kidney stones and is set at 4,700 milligrams for adults. One medium banana contains 422 milligrams of potassium.

Magnesium in Bananas

A diet high in calcium and low in magnesium can cause calcium to contribute to kidney stone formation. Magnesium prevents calcium from combining with oxalate, reducing the formation of crystals that result in the most common type of kidney stone. The University of Maryland Medical Center advises eating bananas to prevent kidney stones because they contain magnesium and very little calcium 1. One medium banana provides you with 32 milligrams of magnesium, or about 10 percent the recommended dietary allowance for women and about 8 percent for men.

Other Remedies

Aside from bananas, other dietary changes can reduce your risk for kidney stones. Eat antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables and foods high in fiber. Limit refined grains and reduce your intake of animal proteins, which cause you to excrete higher amounts of calcium and uric acid in your urine. If you’ve developed calcium oxalate stones in the past, decrease your intake of foods high in oxalate, including spinach, rhubarb, beets, nuts, coffee, black tea, strawberries and beans. Reduce sodium and sugar intake, which is associated with stone formation. Exercise regularly and drink plenty of fluids.