Why Does Soda Give You Kidney Stones?

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Artificially added fructose

The bad guy in soda that takes more attention when it comes to the risk of kidney stone is artificially added fructose! Some studies suggest that it is independently associated with the increased risk of kidney stones.

It’s well known that fructose can increase excretion of uric acid, calcium, and oxalate – the stone forming chemicals. And the bad news, it’s not only for soda guzzlers that are at risk! Even the risk is still pretty high if you only drink at least one sugar-sweetened soda per day!

Phosphoric acid

Many soda drinks contain phosphoric acid that can decrease citrate levels in your urine. Having low citrate levels increase the risk of crystal formation for kidney stones!

Urine citrate can help bind calcium in a soluble citrate complex, reducing the risk of calcium salt super-saturation. It inhibits crystals formation, aggregation, and growth!

Dehydrating effect

Again, adequate liquid in the urine is so essential for stone prevention because it can help reduce urine super-saturation, the basis for kidney stones.

Soda beverages are usually rich in caffeine, a well-known substance that has a powerful effect on the brain chemistry. As mentioned before, caffeine carries dehydrating effect.

On the other hand, keeping hydrated all day long is important to reduce the risk of having kidney stones. Dehydration means your urine contains too little liquid with too much waste, and this increases the chance of crystals to form (the starting point of kidney stone to develop).


According to one study, greater waist size and BMI may be linked to a higher risk of kidney stones. The result of this study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (2005). And in fact there are many cases of obesity linked to excessive soda consumption, as noted before!

It seems diet soda may contribute to cause kidney stones in several different ways. The risk is higher if you also have other risk factors of the problem.

The following are common risk factors of kidney stones:

  1. Personal or family history of the same problem.
  2. Poor diet, especially diet high in sodium and sugar. Not drinking enough water every day can have an effect, too!
  3. Being obese (obesity).
  4. Other medical conditions. These include digestive diseases (such as inflammatory bowel disease), urinary tract infections, renal tubular acidosis, and hyperparathyroidism.

So, should you completely avoid soda?

In fact, kidney stones are recurrent condition. If you have had them before, there is a chance to get the same problem for the second time. And your diet can play a key role to prevent them from recurring.

Unfortunately for soda lovers, it’s not easy to skip this sugar-sweetened beverage in their daily diet. Fortunately for most people, they don’t necessarily need to completely skip soda from their diet!

For most healthy individuals, it’s still safe to consume no more than 450 calories a week from soda or sugar-sweetened soft drinks (based on a daily diet of 2,000 calories) – according to AHA, the American Heart Association.

But if you are sensitive to certain substance in soda due to particular health condition (such as if you have personal history of a gout attack or kidney stone), you may need to significantly cut down on soda. Talk with your doctor for more guidance!

Here other tips:

  1. Choose soft drinks that are free of phosphoric acid!
  2. The type of fluid you drink matters, but it’s also much better to concern about how much you’re drinking!
  3. Find alternatives! You don’t have to get stuck with plain old water for your kidney-stone safe diet. Orange juice, wine, and tea – for examples – also have great taste (even some may help reduce your risk of kidney stones).
Citations /references:

  1. http://www.prevention.com/food/healthy-eating-tips/how-bad-soda-really
  2. https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/kidneystones
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17928824
  4. http://kidneystones.uchicago.edu/citrate-to-prevent-stones
  5. The Journal of the American Medical Association, Jan. 26, 2005; Taylor, E; vol 293: pp 455-462.

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