For some coffee drinkers, topics and questions like can coffee cause kidney stones have been subjects of drawn-out discussions with no clear conclusions.
Many countries have a history of banning coffee for a broad range of dietary and religious reasons.
Most statisticians agree that coffee is the world’s favorite stimulant. Its audience reach is expanding, with more mainstream cafes and independent coffee houses thriving in various parts of the world.
Data from The National Coffee Association reveals that coffee closely trails water as the most popular daily beverage in the United States.
Because of its popularity, coffee has been the subject of numerous academic and peer-reviewed studies.
Scientists have been looking into its effects on the immune system, cardiovascular health, and cancer risks since the early 1940s. In this post, our coffee experts will outline the relationship coffee has on your kidneys and whether you should slow down or double up on caffeine consumption.
Coffee and Your Kidneys
Your kidneys act as your body’s first line of defense against overhydration and blood cell poisoning. The kidneys filter out and eliminate the excess phosphorus, calcium, and potassium in your blood, helping you maintain a healthy balance of minerals, water, and salts.
While your body can work correctly with only one kidney, it’s a good idea to keep two as muscles, nerves, and brain cells won’t remain functional for very long if you have impaired kidney function.
Studies that assess large swaths of the global population indicate that coffee may have a protective effect on the health of your kidneys, similar to how probiotics have a protective effect on the functioning of your gut.
Scientists from the Korean Journal of Family Medicine began looking into the potential links between coffee consumption and kidney disease for 2,600 women, and what they found prompted numerous meta-analyses.
The researchers found that continuous coffee consumption led to a slightly decreased risk of kidney disorders for respondents in perfect health and even those with diabetes.
Scientists from Thailand began a deeper examination of these results and published a paper in 2016, finding that male subjects don’t benefit from regular coffee consumption as much as females.
Their findings indicate that long-term coffee drinking has no effect on the kidney health of men, but it is beneficial to women.
A similar study began in Nicaragua, where scientists found that continuous coffee consumption in growing villages led to a lower incidence rate of chronic kidney disorders. They believe that the numerous antioxidants present in coffee can dampen the effects of diabetes and that caffeine consumption strengthens female kidneys. Coffee might not produce the same positive outcomes for men, but it’s not a risk factor for urinary tract infections and kidney diseases.
Can Coffee Cause Kidney Stones?
Kidney stones are one of the most prevalent and painful health conditions in the United States. According to research from Elsevier, one out of every eleven adults in America suffers from kidney stones. So, it’s natural for people to wonder if caffeine can prevent kidney stones or cause them.
Kidney stones come from solidified accumulations of oxalic acid or oxalates in the interior linings of the kidney. Oxalate is a naturally occurring compound in many legumes and leafy plants, and they quickly bind with calcium, forming stones that are hard to pass. Coffee and dark teas are the most popular source of oxalates in North America.
However, studies from the Universities of Chicago and Harvard reveal that brewed coffee contains only one milligram of oxalate per cup, and decaffeinated coffees have only two. According to the National Kidney Foundation and the American Journal of Kidney Diseases, you can consume brewed coffee safely as part of a low-oxalate diet without worrying about kidney stones.
A research paper from the University of Pittsburgh indicates that instant coffee powder has a very high oxalate content. This makes coffee dangerous to consume for people prone to kidney stones.
Raw cocoa and other ingredients manufacturers use to create hot chocolate can contain as much as 65 milligrams of oxalate per cup. So be cautious if you want to use these ingredients to flavor your coffee.
Most diets for patients with kidney diseases require limiting their oxalate consumption to less than 100 milligrams per day.
Can Coffee Decrease Your Risk of Kidney Stones?
The caffeine in coffee is a natural diuretic, meaning it helps your body eliminate wastewater quickly by allowing you to pee more often.
This effect cleanses your urinary tract. According to a study from the National Kidney Foundation, a cup and a half of coffee per day is enough to reduce the risk of forming kidney stones in healthy adults by 40%.
Half of the American adult population drinks at least one cup of coffee every day, unwittingly preventing kidney stones and other urinary tract diseases from taking hold.
Coffee is safe even for people who are currently suffering from kidney disease. If you’re one of them, the only thing you need to be cautious of is the additives you blend into your morning cup.
An eight-ounce serving of a latte without flavored syrup can pack as much as 200 milligrams of phosphorus and more than 300 milligrams of potassium.
Mass-produced creamers contain artificial phosphates, which are dangerous for people prone to forming kidney stones.
If your doctor advises you to go on a Restricted Fluid Diet as part of a treatment program, don’t forget to include coffee in your daily allotment.
Brewed coffee has only trace amounts of sodium, phosphorus, and protein.
Dietitians recommend drinking no more than three cups per day to stay safe. The average cup of coffee has about 120 milligrams of potassium, so drinking one cup after another can agitate the kidneys of everyone with a high sensitivity to minerals.
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