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The Link between Diet, Gut Bacteria, and Kidney Stones

By May 30, 2018No Comments
Studying partners’ habits leads researchers to breakthrough in kidney stone research.

Kidney stones are a common problem in Canada. Ten per cent of the population suffers from the painful condition, caused when high levels of oxalate combine with calcium in the bloodstream and crystallize into stones in the kidney. Oxalates are found in a range of foods from french fries to nuts. Some people easily eliminate oxalates but others can’t.

In a new BC study of live-in partners—one partner who has recurring kidney stones, the other stone free—Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute scientists found that differences in gut bacteria may account for the difference in kidney stone occurrence.

Dr. Dirk Lange leads the ongoing project, which has already studied 17 partners sharing similar diets and daily habits. Lange says zeroing in on the intestinal microbiome—the collection of bacteria, fungi and viruses that live in our guts—makes sense. “There is evidence that a single type of gut bacteria called ‘Oxalobacter formigenes’ breaks down the oxalates we ingest. It only uses oxalates for energy. Without that bacteria we have a hard time breaking down oxalates and they may go on to form kidney stones.”