This week on the Kidney Stone Diet Podcast Jill answers a listener question about lemons, True Lemon, and how to dissolve kidney stones.
Have a question? Leave us a voicemail at (773) 789-8763.
Stop Kidney Stones Once and For All
- Kidney Stone Prevention Course
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- 24 Hour Urine Collection Analysis
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Kidney Stone Diet Resources
Find more episodes of the Kidney Stone Diet Podcast here.
Who is Jill Harris?
Jill is a nurse and health coach that specializes in educating patients on kidney stone prevention. For more than 20 years she’s helped patients understand that kidney stones can be prevented with the right treatment plan. It’s one thing to be told to lower oxalate or drink more water, but HOW do you do it? That’s where she comes in. Through the educational resources at kidneystonediet.com, stone formers can learn everything they need to know to significantly lower new stone risk.
Who is Jeff Sarris?
Jeff’s co-founder of SPYR, a branding agency based out of Chicago, where he and his business partner Dave help awesome people like Jill create online platforms that make an impact. He’s also a certified health coach, Executive Producer of the Netflix documentary Minimalism, and host of the Starting Now podcast.
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Jeff Sarris: Welcome back to the Kidney Stone Diet podcast, a show about reducing your kidney stone risk and living your best life and playing with your favorite dog. I’m your host, Jeff Sarris.
Jill Harris: And I’m Jill Harris, your kidney stone preventioner. And, you know, every time we do the show, it’s around his dinner time. So either he’s burpin’ or dancing for food or whatever. But he’s always making some noise, so he’s all done now, though. So that’s good.
Jeff Sarris: It is really funny. He came in right in the corner of the screen right when we started, and he’s just sort of eyeballing and he’s like, “Okay it’s time. Let’s go.”
Jill Harris: It’s just always something with him. He’s awesome.
Jeff Sarris: Oh yeah. How’s your day been? Sounds like a busy one.
Jill Harris: It’s been very busy, Jeff. I’ve been on the phone talking to kidney stone formers. So, some of you may say, “Well, good! Business is good for you!” But on the other hand–and that is nice, I could pay my rent. That’s okay. But here’s the deal. It’s like, a lot of people are sick with these stones, so as a nurse, you know, it’s just non-stop, right?
So us doing things like this and trying to get the word out, and just even small bits of information that people can use and take away and start implementing and asking their doctor about and all the things. It’s so very important. So I have to say, I’m tired. And last week, I had a surgery also, so I’ve been recovering from that. So I’ve been a busy girl. And you know what makes me the saddest is there’s no gym for me. No lifting weights for a little while.
Jeff Sarris: About how long does it look like?
Jill Harris: This time, it’s only two weeks, which is super cool. Usually, it’s like months for me. This was a smaller surgery on my belly, so this is not as big of a deal. But you know, I’m an old broad, it takes a while to recover from all this stuff, right?
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, and just in general, I mean, any sort of surgery is a big shift in lifestyle immediately.
Jill Harris: It is! It really is. Things stop, and you have to be prepared for the things you can’t do, which is a whole other video. And we can do that maybe today, too, while we’re doing all our videos. I guess it would be a good one. So, what’s today?
Oh, and one more thing, Jeff, if one more person says “Oh, I love your son. He has such a presence” because of our last names. You know what I mean? They’re probably looking at both real quick, and it’s Sarris and Harris. Still, people are like, “Oh, your son’s adorable.” I’m like, “Oh, yeah. Thanks. My son….”
Jeff Sarris: Well, yeah, we’ll have to throw up a photo of your actual son at some point, just like this is him.
Jill Harris: Yeah, he’s a lot younger.
Jeff Sarris: That is funny! But yeah, our names are so similar. Especially if you’re just listening quickly, I just say Sarris and Harris, and it’s just fast. But yeah, it just so happens we have four letter first names and very similar last names.
Jill Harris: Yes. I’m getting that question all the time, though.
Jeff Sarris: That’s funny. All right. So let’s dive into this week’s question.
Listener Voicemail: Jill, this is Daniel from Texas. I’m 38 years old, and I started having issues with kidney stones. It was a big surprise. I ended up having multiple small stones in my right kidney, and two kidney stones that were too big to pass on my own. So I had to go in, get the stent, all that stuff. Well, in my journey, trying to figure out this whole new way of life and getting the diet figured out and all that. And one thing I’ve incorporated into my diet is a lot more lemon drinking lemon water. I came across this product called True Lemon, which comes in several different forms. It’s an additive for cooking and baking, and comes in a seasoning shaker. And then I’ve also seen it as a water bottle additive, like where you can rip the top off a small packet and add it. I’ve kind of been using that in the afternoons to get some more lemon in my diet; to get that citric acid in my kidneys. I just wanted to ask and see what you thought about this product. Alright, hope you’re having a great day.
True Lemon, Real Lemon, and Just a Lemon
Jill Harris: What a wonderful question! And it’s interesting because I told Jeff, “Jeff, we’ve got to talk about lemons at some point.” He’s like, “Well, we have a question on lemons today.” And I said “Perfect.” So, Dan, I’m very happy you called and I’m very sorry that you got the surprise of stones. They’re always a surprise for people. No one ever thinks they’re going to get stones. No one ever thinks that kidney stones until they’re hit with one. So he wants to know about product called True Lemon. Is that it, Jeff, True Lemon?
Jeff Sarris: Yeah.
Jill Harris: Thank you. There are many products one can put in their water to flavor enhance (make the water more fun for you to drink), and/or get some citrate into you. Now, the first question I’m going to ask you, Dan–which my oldies who have been with me are thinking, “Oh, she’s goin’ ask, she’s goin’ ask, she’s goin’ ask!”–have you done a urine collection? And this is specifically what I wanted to talk about today. A lot of people are sucking down lemon products. Whether it’s True Lemon, or Real Lemon,–there’s a product called Real Lemon–or lemon in your produce section. Everyone’s putting lemon into their water. You may not need it. So people will say to me, “Well, what’s the big deal? So what? It’s not going to hurt nothing.”
Here’s what I hear everyday, people. Here’s what I experience with my patients. The reason I get upset about the lemon, just lemon, a lot of patients will go into the doctor’s office and the doctor does not do a urine collection, but tells the patient just stuck on a lemon. So, first of all, how much lemon? No one knows, meaning no one ever tells them how much lemon. So, I have patients that when I tell you they’re sucking down lemons because they never want that stone again, they bought a lemon tree. Let’s just put it that way. And now their tooth enamel has been eroded; their GERD, which is gastric reflux has been increased; it doesn’t sit well with their stomach, they’re having diarrhea if they have Crohn’s or colitis or bowel issues.
Can Lemons Dissolve Kidney Stones?
So this generic sucking on a lemon to increase one’s pH, perhaps, or citrate, why are we going to have patients do that if we don’t know they need it? Now, if you’re just putting a little lemon in your water to flavor it, of course! That’s not going to hurt a patient. But what is ordered for a patient and what a patient actually does? Well, that’s two different books, okay? And so I hear what patients do. They typically overuse lemons and because they were only told to suck on a lemon, they ain’t doing nothing else. They ain’t changing their diet. And people think these lemons are this magical cure for kidney stones. They are not! Will lemons dissolve kidney stones? They may help only uric acid stones, okay? But, again, you’d have to be sucking on a lot of lemons.
Typically, if a patient is wanting to dissolve–their doctor wants them to try to dissolve a kidney stone–it’s uric acid. They’re giving them potassium citrate, typically, and that’s a supplement they take. It’s a heavier dose. The other thing about lemons–I got a list because I hear this every day. The other thing about lemons–and for you, particularly, Dan, with your with your little potion in the package–if your citrate is really low, it ain’t going to get you where you need to be.
You need to be on a supplement form that the doctor will prescribe. If you just need a bip of citrate, just a little bit, then lemons can be helpful. They can be helpful. And the only way you’re going to know if they’re being helpful for you is if you do a follow-up urine collection. But I’m not a fan of the generic “suck on a lemon” because people don’t realize they have to do the whole Kidney Stone Diet, okay? Lemons are not a miracle cure and lots of times it’s certainly not going to be enough to get your citrate level where it needs to go, okay? So, there’s that.
Jeff Sarris: And just to touch on it real really briefly, the two types of stones: you have uric acid and calcium oxalate. They’re very different, correct, and how you need to work with them?
Jill Harris: Yes, and you have calcium phosphate ones, too. So, you have calcium phosphate, calcium oxalate, and uric acid. And then there’s lesser stones, cystine stones, struvite stones, they’re special. But the majority of people have calcium oxalate stones, and then uric acid stones and calcium phosphate stones. Majority of people have calcium oxalate. Nothing, nothing, nothing, nada will break up calcium-based stones. Uric acid stones can be broken up. People will say, “Well, mine broke up and I had a calcium oxalate stone. I took lemons and broke it up.” Look, guys, if you took your kidney stone and you put it in lemon juice and let it sit there for 10 years, they wouldn’t break up unless it was a uric acid stone, okay? So it does not break them up.
Maybe you passed stones, but it wasn’t necessarily because of the lemon juice. You just happen to pass them. God was with you and you passed your stones because you were drinking a lot of fluids, it was your time, it was in a place, you were exercising more, whatever the case is. But to go back to the main point, you could take that, Dan, but do you know if you need it? Could you be taking that and spending your money on that product without needing it? Is your citrate already really high, and your pH already really high. And you don’t want to make that worse? Now, I don’t care if citrate is high, who cares about that. It’s not a bad thing to have more citrate. That’s not a bad thing. But your pH being a little bit too high could increase your risk for calcium phosphate stones. So this is all guys. It’s complicated. It’s just complicated.
Lemons are not going to be a miracle cure for kidney stone disease. Taking too much can hurt your tooth enamel and increase any acid reflux you may have. You also may be thinking falsely that you’re doing everything you now can to prevent a kidney stone. So there’s a few reasons why I don’t like it. Again, if your citrate’s a little low, yes, you can take lemons–make sure your doctor says that’s okay for you. But most of the time, it ain’t gonna do nothing. So I’m not a fan of it. Dr. Coe, on his website, has an article on Crystal Light that has a little bit more alkali citrate in it than a lemon would. You might want to try that, but this is only if you need it, guys. Don’t be wasting money on things that you don’t need. You just don’t need to waste money, unless your doctor says we have done a urine collection and, based upon those results, this is what we need to do, okay?
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, and on that point, the urine collection, you have the urine analysis service where you help people break down sort of what the results are.
Jill Harris: Yes! Right before this call, I just got off like six of those calls. What I love about them is you really get educated before you see your doctor. So I am not your doctor. I’m a nurse. I’m going to have you understand what these results mean for a kidney stone former. I’m going to talk to you about your history, so you know what to talk to the doctor about, and then the doctor can put everything together for you. It is the most valuable–I’m not a great business person–but it is the most valuable service. I love that service because I, as a patient, had I known half the things going into doctor’s office visits, and I’m flying to New York and seeing a doctor all the way in New York for a five minute visit, and I’m scared I don’t know what to ask.
So that service was based upon my experience as a patient. And if we’re educated well with an expert, before we go talk to another expert, we’re able to have a really kick butt doctor’s office visit and then you can get on the best possible treatment plan for you. Because the other thing is, you guys don’t know what you don’t know. So you don’t know sometimes the doctor is super busy. They’re seeing 30 patients in a day. So they may not ask as many things I’m going to ask the family history, I’m going to ask medical and I’m going to ask a ton of stuff to get you prepped, so then you can present that to your doctor who may be super strapped for time because he or she’s in surgeries all day long.
Yeah, I mean, it’s a lot. It’s a lot to to grasp and to go into a doctor’s appointment unprepared, because you can’t get the same level of service. It makes it sound very transactional, but at the same time the doctor, like you said, has so many people that they’re working with day in, day out that it’s really it’s such a demanding career–
Look, there’s a reason I figured out how to do this on my own. You can’t be in a hospital and really make the difference that you want to in a human being’s life. It’s hard, guys. Insurance companies don’t want to pay for a hospital visit unless you’re really sick. Doctors don’t have time because they’re dealing with so many patients. It’s a mess and we know that. So that’s a whole other–that’s not a video. That’s a documentary, okay? But you know, it’s tough. So you’ve got to figure out a way, if you want to be a healthcare professional to really maximize your time with patients. And if you’re in that traditional setting, it’s going to be tough. I have a lot of friends that are doctors and had they known what this was going to be like, they would have picked another career. It’s tough on them. It really is.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, and speaking of the urine analysis, you’ll find it right on the site at the top in the navigation, and it’s the “24 hour Urine Analysis Consult.” I have it up on the screen right now, just so you can get an idea of what to expect when you’re looking on the site. But yeah, it’s so important. It’s where you recommend everyone starts when when you’re doing this. So if you want to dive deeper head on over the kidneystonediet.com, where you can find that. You can find all the free resources, you can find past episodes of the podcast, the blog, the email newsletter, you can find the prevention course, which is a premium product where Jill has how much video content is on there specifically, was it hours?
Jill Harris: Yeah, it’s 4 hours. And it’s a self-guided thing you do on your own, and then you do these accountability calls. You can come to them, you don’t have to come to them, but people find them. I think they’re just the best because you take the course which is self-guided, you do it when you want, you have it for a lifetime, you just plug it in in your computer, and then you show up for these office hours that I hold, and that’s where you can ask. It’s one thing that we’re asking patients, no matter who you are, what to do. But how do you do it? It’s tricky. You can’t just read a book on how to do a diet and you know everything.
There’s so many things because you have different medical conditions and food sensitivities and all kinds of stuff food you don’t like, by the way. So those group calls are–I have friends, we love each other in that group. You know, people come and go, people come back because they get off the wagon, so it’s also a lifetime membership, too, where you can come and go. You want to lose weight? You go to a call. It’s kind of like, you know, A.A. “Keep on track with the Kidney Stone Diet!” But it works! There’s a reason why A.A. is so successful for people, right? It holds you accountable. You’re with people that understand exactly what you’re going through. You have major support, and then having a ringleader guiding you through it all and helping you out. I just said the 15 minute call is great, but god the course is awesome.
Jeff Sarris: Well, yeah, there’s a reason that you have these products! I mean, because they do make a difference. They make a major difference in people’s lives. And the course is for a lifetime. You own it. You buy it once and you own it forever. And then the calls it is a monthly subscription beyond the first month so you can stay signed up, sign up, unsubscribe, sign up later, do whatever works for you. But whenever you need it, it’s always there for you. So I’m just wanting to make that note.
And yeah, Daniel, thanks again for your call. If you have a question, the number is 773-789-8763, and we’d love to field the question in a future episode. We’re actually caught up on questions for the first time in, I think since we started! Like we’re caught up on voicemail questions! So, really, if you have something that hasn’t been answered yet on on the show, we would love to hear from you, and feature yours!
Jill Harris: Yeah, people, don’t be shy! Call in! There’s got to be a few Jill’s out there that have a question on kidney stones that aren’t shy at all. Also, please write in the comments. Did you have that experience with lemons? Were you told to take lemons and then you did a urine collection and you were like god, I didn’t even need them. What the heck was I doing?” So I want to start a community here on YouTube as well as like we have on Facebook. Also do me a favor, people always say, “Thank you guys for giving us this free information, blah, blah, blah.”
Well, can you do us a favor and please subscribe to the channel because it helps us rank higher in the ratings and then more people can find us, okay? So I want people to be able to find credible information on kidney stones, so they know what to do. So, subscribe. Click that button. All that means for you is that you will be notified on Tuesday morning that we’re putting up a new show. That’s it, no big deal, but it helps us greatly and we’d appreciate it.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, it really does! So thanks again and we’ll see you all next week!
Jill Harris: Thanks, Daniel! Bye!