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What is the Connection Between Kidney Stones and Beer?

Kidney stones, painful mineral deposits in the urinary tract, may find an unexpected foe in beer. Moderate consumption has been linked to a lower risk, as beer's diuretic effect aids in flushing the kidneys. Intrigued by how a cold brew could influence kidney health? Discover the science behind this surprising connection and what it means for your well-being. Ready to learn more?
Amanda R. Bell
Amanda R. Bell

There are several unique connections between kidney stones and beer. Drinking beer in moderation can be an effective means of preventing and treating kidney stones. While studies have proven the benefits of beer, they have also found a connection between chronic kidney stones and drinking beer. That is, too much beer drinking can actually make the condition worse.

Kidney stones are caused by the development of calcium deposits in urine. When these deposits mix with salt and other substances, stones develop. When the stones become too large, they can be incredibly painfully as they are passed through the system; in some cases, the condition might require medical treatment. A study from Finland found that drinking one beer a day, especially a stout or porter beer, can prevent these calcium deposits from developing. For those who are prone to developing kidney stones, a daily glass of beer may reduce the chances of the stones developing by up to 40%.

Kidney stones next to a ruler to show the size.
Kidney stones next to a ruler to show the size.

While stouts and porters are especially useful in preventing kidney stones due to their high amount of hops, studies have found that any type of beer can help to treat kidney stones. This connection between kidney stones and beer is twofold. First, beer increases the amount of urine that the body produces, which flushes calcium from the body before it can accumulate with existing kidney stones. This can prevent the stones from becoming any larger, making them easier and less painful to pass.

Cranberry juice may help with kidney stones.
Cranberry juice may help with kidney stones.

Secondly, beer in moderation can also dilate the urinary tract. This gives existing kidney stones more room to pass through; this can not only help stones leave the body faster, but also decreases the amount of pain experienced while they are leaving the body. For those who do not drink beer, cranberry juice has a similar effect.

There is also a negative correlation between kidney stones and drinking beer. When consumed in large quantities, this beverage increases acid in urine. When heavy beer drinking continues for long periods, the acid in the urine can become so high that it can cause kidney stones to form. This occurs despite the fact that moderate beer drinking actually discourages kidney stone development. This relationship between kidney stones and beer is why those suffering from alcoholism are often plagued with chronic stones.

Beer.
Beer.

While many doctors suggest a daily beer for patients prone to or experiencing kidney stones, it is important to stick to just one a day. For those with a history of developing kidney stones, heavy drinking or binge drinking can put them at risk for severe kidney stones that may require medical intervention. The mix of kidney stones and beer can have both positive and negative results; therefore, moderation is key.

Discussion Comments

Ruggercat68

A friend of mine swore that drinking beer while trying to pass a kidney stone cut the pain by half. I think drinking any beverage besides milk would have the same effect, but he said he tried other things and none of them had the same results as beer.

Buster29

I don't drink beer myself, but I can see where it might help. I became dehydrated because of a very physically demanding job, and I had my first kidney stone attack a week later. If someone made a habit of drinking something like a can or glass of beer every day, he or she might not get that dehydrated. One beer isn't likely to lead to intoxication, either. If I had like the stuff better back in the day, I probably would have drank a glass for my health every day.

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    • Kidney stones next to a ruler to show the size.
      By: erik gould
      Kidney stones next to a ruler to show the size.
    • Cranberry juice may help with kidney stones.
      Cranberry juice may help with kidney stones.
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      Beer.
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      A kidney with a kidney stone.
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      Three types of beer in pilsner glasses.
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      Alcoholics are more likely to suffer from chronic kidney stones.
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      Kidney stones can develop from a mix of calcium and other minerals.
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      A urinalysis may be conducted to detect kidney stones.