Many physicians and other medical sources recommend drinking lemonade as a way to prevent the occurrence of kidney stones. It is often assumed that they prevent the formation of kidney stones via citric acid, which breaks down small stones as they form.
About one in 11 people in the United States are affected by kidney stones, and the rate seems to be rising. Diet and lifestyle seems to be major factors. It’s also often associated with diabetes and obesity.
- They occur when you consume oxalate;
- It’s a naturally occurring compound in some foods such as legumes;
- It binds with minerals, and in the body with calcium to create kidney stones or calcium oxalate (CaOx);
- Both oxalate and calcium levels in the blood are increased when you don’t take in enough fluids, and/or take in too much salt.
Kidney stones can be painful as they pass through your system, and may require treatments such as using sound waves to shatter them.
Prevention is much better than having to find a cure, in other words.
Lemons and kidney stones
While lemonade has long been associated with kidney stone prevention, and there is cumulative evidence of the fact that it works, the exact mechanism wasn’t. Chinese researchers recently decided to delve deeper into the question.
Their paper was titled Lemon-Derived Extracellular Vesicle-like Nanoparticles Block the Progression of Kidney Stones by Antagonizing Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress in Renal Tubular Cells and was published in American Chemical Society.
What they found
Extracellular vesicle-like nanoparticles or EVNs were isolated from fresh lemon juice. EVNs are made up of proteins, lipids, nucleic acids and other components. Importantly, those packages of components can be delivered into other cells.
Essentially, they are nano-sized particles that are covered with a layer of proteins and lipids. They are released by specific cells, and they are thought to be part of how cells communicate with each other.
- They gave lemon-derived EVNs to rats, and found that it alleviated the progression of kidney stones by a notable degree.
- They “obstructed” the crystallization of CaOx, and suppressed the response that produces kidney stones.
- Stone formation is inhibited.
- The effect is indirect, but works.
Adding to the anecdotal evidence that has piled up over the years, the report only supports the use of lemonade as a regular beverage for health and disease prevention.