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Can Drinking Too Much Sparkling Water Cause Kidney Stones? Here’s What Health Experts Say

If you walk down the beverage aisle in the grocery store, you may notice sparkling water has taken up more shelf space than five to ten years ago.

Both flavored and unflavored sparkling water are undoubtedly hydrating and have become a popular alternative to plain water. Its fizziness also offers a similar texture and mouthfeel to other carbonated drinks like soda.

Sparkling water is one of the next best beverage choices for people looking for an alternative to sodas who find plain water too plain.

Since sparkling water contains minerals, should you be concerned about whether drinking too much sparkling water can cause kidney stones? We asked a urologist and a renal dietitian for their input—keep scrolling to find out what they have to say.

What Are Kidney Stones?

Kidney stones are abnormal solid deposits of minerals and salts formed inside your kidneys.1 Kidney stones are mainly made from calcium and oxalate deposits. However, calcium phosphate and uric acid kidney stones can also happen.

According to Scott D. Miller, M.D., M.B.A., a urologist and medical director of Wellstar Urology in Atlanta, kidney stones can be quite painful once they move through the urinary tract and cause blockage of that kidney.

Miller adds, “Stones that remain in the kidney usually do not cause pain, but they can lead to kidney damage or serious urinary infections.”

Common Causes

Miller says it is important to distinguish between kidney stones’ causes and risk factors. He says that the structure of the kidney lining also matters, “In most people, those who do not form stones, small crystals will naturally flow out of the kidney with no consequence. Stone-formers, on the other hand, have a “sticky” urinary lining that allows these crystals to adhere to the kidney wall and continue to grow.”

Kidney stones form when the concentration of stone-making minerals and compounds in your urine gets too high.

Chicago-based dietitian Melanie Betz, M.S., RD, CSR, FAND, founder and CEO of The Kidney Dietitian, says high urine calcium is the common cause of kidney stones. She explains, “Eating too much salt, animal protein or added sugar [can lead to kidney stone formation]. High urine calcium can also be caused by medication conditions, medications and genetics. Dehydration is also a common cause, which makes your urine more concentrated and kidney stones more likely [to form].”

While foods and supplements may influence kidney stone formation, it is also important to get blood tests that measure whether you have excess mineral production. Miller explains, “If there is an excess [of minerals], the mechanism of prevention would be to reduce the formation of even the smallest crystals in the urine, thereby not giving these minerals an opportunity to adhere to the kidney lining. In most people, these crystals would merely wash away. As such, dietary influence is a risk factor rather than a true cause.”

So, Can Sparkling Water Cause Kidney Stones?

Sparkling water is a type of carbonated mineral water that gives you the fizz. It contains minerals and trace elements that are naturally occurring, usually from an underground source. Sparkling water typically has calcium and magnesium. According to the Food and Drug Administration, mineral water manufacturers shouldn’t add additional minerals to this water.

From a nutrition standpoint, Miller and Betz note that sparkling mineral water doesn’t cause kidney stones. The misconception that sparkling mineral water causes kidney stone formation comes from the fact that it contains minerals. However, these minerals are naturally occurring and in low doses. Miller states that small amounts of minerals do not affect stone formation.

Betz agrees that sparkling water doesn’t damage your health as long as it’s unsweetened. Drinking too much sweetened sparkling water can increase your added sugar intake, increasing your risk of some conditions, such as type 2 diabetes.

How to Prevent Kidney Stones

Most kidney stones cannot be dissolved. Once they have formed, they must be passed or removed medically.

So, preventing kidney stones from forming in the first place is key. A review of research found that people who have had kidney stones in the past have a 50% chance of developing more within 5 to 10 years, and 75% risk within 20 years.

Drink Plenty of Fluids

Miller and Betz recommend drinking plenty of fluids, mainly from plain water, if possible. The American Urological Association suggests drinking at least 2.5 liters of fluids daily (around 84 ounces of water). However, this number may vary from person to person, so check with your health care provider to confirm the right amount for you.

Curb Your Sodium Intake

Consuming excessive amounts of sodium may increase your chances of developing kidney stones. Keep your sodium levels aligned with the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommend consuming no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, equivalent to 1 teaspoon of salt.

Eat Calcium-Rich Foods

Don’t fall into the trap of eliminating calcium in your diet to prevent calcium stones. As counterintuitive as this seems, calcium from dietary sources doesn’t cause calcium stone formation.

Plus, “The lack of dietary calcium can have some detrimental health effects such as increasing your risk of osteoporosis,” says Miller. Betz agrees and recommends eating at least three servings of calcium-rich foods with meals every day. Some calcium-rich foods include broccoli and calcium-fortified cereals

Eat Plenty of Veggies and Fruits

Eating lots of vegetables and fruits can lower urine acidity and reduce the risk of stone formation. Also, they are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that support your overall health. Follow the USDA MyPlate Method and enjoy at least half a plate of veggies and fruits at meals.

Limit Animal Protein

Gout is a condition that develops when too much uric acid accumulates in the body, causing painful and inflamed joints. People with gout may also be at an elevated risk of forming uric acid stones, another type of kidney stone.

Eating too much animal-based protein may increase the risk of stone formation due to the high purine concentration. Purine is a compound that could trigger higher uric acid production, leading to more acidic urine being formed and excreted.

Every week, try to swap some animal-based protein for plant-based protein like beans, lentils, tofu, edamame and more.

The Bottom Line

Regularly drinking sparkling mineral water doesn’t cause kidney stone formation. Plus, it can help you stay hydrated. In contrast to soda water, sparkling mineral water is a natural source of minerals, meaning that minerals weren’t added during the process. These naturally occurring minerals in sparkling water come in small amounts.

However, if you are at a higher risk of developing kidney stones, check with your doctor for personalized advice. And be sure to incorporate some proven preventive strategies, such as reducing sodium intake, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and reducing animal-protein sources.

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