Good news, ladies: Your vices are helping you keep kidney stones away! Well, if your vices tend toward the alcohol and caffeine end of the spectrum, anyway. If one of your vices is drinking soda, however—stop it! You’re going to give yourself kidney stones, and it is going to suck.
More than just the butt of endless sitcom gags, kidney stones are small, hard deposits of mineral and acid salts that form inside the kidneys and wreak havoc in the urinary tract. Though they generally don’t cause permanent damage, getting kidney stones out of the body is supposedly hella painful, and sometime surgery is needed.
So!—you don’t want kidney stones. But how to keep them away? No one is quite sure what causes the stones to form in the first place, but in a new study, researchers from Harvard University and Rome’s Catholic University of the Sacred Heart uncovered some surprising new evidence re: reducing kidney stone risk.
The team looked at nearly 195,000 patients who had never had kidney stones. Subjects regularly reorted what beverages they drank and whether any kidney stones developed, for an average of eight years. At the end of the study, researchers pinpointed which beverages seemed to decrease one’s risk of getting kidney stones and which we’re likely to leave you hunched over your toilet in excoriating pain. Without further ado ….
Drinks that increase kidney stone risk:
- Sugar-sweetened cola and sodas
- Fruit punch
- Artificially sweetened non-cola drinks (slightly)
Drinks that decrease kidney stone risk:
- Caffeinated coffee (33% less risk)
- Decaffeinated coffee (16%)
- Tea (11%)
- Red wine (31%)
- White wine (33%)
- Beer (41%),
- Orange juice (12%)
There was no link one way or the other for apple and grapefruit juices.
So what’s behind these links? If it were simply a sugar issue, why would orange juice fall on the good side?
“Orange juice has citrate, which is good for keeping stones away,” explains The Atlantic Health’s James Hamblin. He notes that obesity is also a kidney stone risk factor, so the increased risk that appears to come from soda and fruit-punch drinking may actually be part of a larger pattern of unhealthy food and drink choices.