COVID-19 Diet a Boon to Kidney Stone Patients

Your kidneys may be hailing the “COVID-19 diet.”

Some patients prone to kidney stones lowered their intake of sodium and calcium in 2020 as they switched to home cooking, and the reductions have persisted even as restaurants have reopened.

Researchers from the Department of Urology at Stony Brook University Hospital in Stony Brook, New York, reported the findings today at the 2023 meeting of the American Urology Association.

“Subjectively, we noticed our friends, families and our patients reporting that they starting cooking more at home and started eating less out at restaurants; one patient called it the ‘COVID-19 diet,’ ” said David Schulsinger, MD, an associate professor of urology at Stony Brook and the senior author of the study.

Restaurants were closed in New York state starting in March 2020.

Dr David Schulsinger

Schulsinger said reducing the intake of sodium can lower the risk for developing hypernatriuria or hypercalciuria because home cooking allows patients greater control over how they season their food.

In the study, 93 patients (54 men, 39 women, mean age, 60.1 years) underwent 24-hour urine studies at three points in time: before March 16, 2020; over the following 10-month period; and a “post-COVID-19” stage between January 1, 2021 and October 31, 2022.

Levels of urinary sodium decreased from 166.15 ±7.5 mEq/L pre-COVID to 149.09 ±7.6 mEq/L during the pandemic (P = .015), and to 138.55 ±6.83 mEq/L in the last time frame (P = .0035). Urinary calcium fell from 214.18 ±13.05 mEq/L pre-COVID to 191.48 ±13.03 mEq/L (P = .010). Calcium levels remained improved, at 185.33 ±12.61 mEq/L, in the post-COVID period (P = .012), according to the researchers.

The study had no specific funding. Schulsinger reports no relevant financial relationships.

American Urological Association 2023 annual meeting: Abstract MP10-12. Presented April 28, 2023.

Howard Wolinsky is a Chicago-based medical freelancer and a patient diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer who has been on active surveillance since 2010.

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