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Iced Tea & Kidney Stones

Posted Oct 22 2008 4:46pm

Get rid of the soda and sugary drinks. Choose tea to boost intake of those heart-healthy antioxidants and otherwise beneficial flavonoids. We've all heard the good news about tea.

What is not so well known is that iced tea contains high concentrations of oxalates, which are chief culprits in creating kidney stones. Oxalates are found in many plant foods and are particularly concentrated in some foods: spinach, chocolate, nuts, strawberries, wheat bran, beets, rhubarb -- and tea.

For more information on diet, check out this University of Pittsburgh Medical Center article on the Low Oxalate Diet.

Meanwhile, a colleague recently had a most painful experience with kidney stones (she spent " ten grueling days" recovering from the pain of it all). Hearing her story was enough to make me want to give up oxalate-rich foods (some of my favorites are oxalate rich no-no's!).

The good news is that staying hydrated (lots of fresh water, ideally with fresh lemon, which brings kidney-stone busting citrates to the rescue) makes a huge difference. According to Dr. John Milner of the department of urology at Loyola University Chicago, Stritch School of Medicine:

" Lemonade, not the powdered variety that uses artificial flavoring, actually slows the development of kidney stones for those who are prone to the development of kidney stones."

In addition to drinking more fluids, Milner also advises people prone to kidney stones to ease up on foods high in oxalates, sodium, and animal proteins.

Jackson-Siegelbaum gastroenterologists in Pennsylvania also recommend a Kidney Stone Diet that includes insoluble fibers, which whisk unabsorbed calcium safely through the bowels versus the kidneys.

Alas, summer is apparently the worst time for kidney stones, as people sweat more, become more frequently dehydrated, and drink more oxalate-rich iced tea, especially in our southern states!

Right about now, some of you are perhaps thinking, "Hmm...how much lemon will it take to neutralize those oxalates in my beloved iced tea?" :-)

P.S. After I first posted this blog entry, my brother said, "I'm going to stop reading your blog." Apparently, he stopped drinking diet soda after reading Dr. Rodier's blog entry Diet Soda also Makes You Gain Weight - A Lesson in Sweeteners. Stephen switched to iced tea promptly.

Now Stephen is upset to learn that iced tea can lead to kidney stones. Stephen said rather sarcastically this afternoon,"Great. So it's all bad for you, right? Why don't you just tell people to stop breathing. Oxygen can't be so good for you if it oxidizes things!"

Teri and I had a good laugh. And, I told Stephen to go ahead and drink the tea, just drink more water with lemons too! :-)
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