The facts are out and they are telling! One in ten people is likely to suffer from kidney stones in their lifetime. Now, if you are wondering what kidney stones are, you’ve come to the right place. Before we divulge different ways to prevent kidney stones, let us first find out they actually are. Kidney stones are actually mineral deposits that develop inside your kidneys. They cause immense pain, especially when they pass through your urinary tract.
There is no single food or diet or exercise that can prevent kidney stone. In fact, it is a culmination of lifestyle changes and medications that can prevent and heal the condition. Before we reach out for conventional medication, can we actually treat it with a good diet and nutrition plan? There is a diet to prevent kidney stones but if you want to treat it, it usually has to be a combination of all three segments: diet, medication and lifestyle changes.
What are kidney stones?
A kidney stone results from the deposition of minerals. When your urine output decreases and there is a proliferation of certain minerals in the body, they stick to each other and form stones. Some of the common stones are as follows:
- Calcium phosphate stones
- Calcium oxalate stones
- Uric acid stones
- Cystine stones
Kidney Stones Prevention – Natural Ways to Prevent the Condition
Yes, you can prevent kidney stones by following a diet to prevent kidney stones, you do not have to make some radical transformations to your diet, just making small adjustments can go a long way in helping you prevent this painful condition.
Drink more water
The more you drink water, the more you will urinate, and this is one way of dissolving urine salts that are the chief culprits in forming kidney stones. If you have a low urine output, it will form a conducive environment for kidney stone development.
Now, if you are someone who just cannot drink too much of water, don’t worry; there are other options for you to try such as lemonade or orange juice, which contain citrate and prevents the stone formation, these types of juices are some of the best foods to prevent kidney stones.
Drink at least eight glasses of fluids every day so that your urine output is around 2 liters. If you lead an active life, say you exercise a lot and hence sweat a lot, or if you have had cystic stones in your kidney in the past, you need to up the fluid intake even more. The urine color will tell you whether you are drinking enough, a clear or pale-yellow urine color proves that you are drinking enough and if it’s dark, you need to drink more.
Up your calcium intake
Usually, kidney stones are made up of calcium oxalate, this makes people harbor the notion that they should stop having more calcium. This is a myth, low-calcium diets increase your chances of having kidney stones and osteoporosis. However excessive calcium supplements may prove detrimental to your health too. Consume the calcium supplements with your meals to improve the bio-availability.
Milk and milk products, leafy greens, nuts, and seeds are all a great source of calcium-rich foods.
Reduce your sodium intake
We all know the importance of a low-salt and low-sugar diet for optimum health. The truth, high-salt diet may lead to the formation of kidney stones. Excessive amounts of salt in the urine inhibits the calcium from being reabsorbed into the blood from the urine. Too much of calcium in your urine leads to the formation of kidney stones.
Eating less salt helps keep urine calcium levels lower. The lower the urine calcium, the lower the risk of developing kidney stones. Packaged foods are full of extra sodium that harms your body. Get into the habit of reading food labels, this is an effective way of controlling your salt intake. Take a look at some of the foods that you need to keep a strict eye upon:
- Throw all foods out that are processed and refined, such as chips and other crap that you keep feeding your body
- Canned stuff (canned soup, canned veggies) that are always pickled with excess salt
- Lunch meats
- Foods containing monosodium glutamate
- Foods containing sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
Choose herbs instead of salt if you are trying to season your foods and abide by a low-salt diet.
Eat smaller amounts of oxalate-rich foods
Oxalates are natural compounds found in foods, which bind with calcium in the urine, leading to kidney stones. Limit the oxalate-rich foods so that you prevent kidney stones.
Reduce refined sugar intake
Some packaged foods contain high amounts of added sugars such as high fructose corn syrup. These kind of foods and drinks are the stuff you should stay away from. Too much of sucrose and fructose increase your risk of kidney stones manifold. The usual suspects are the colas, cakes, soft drinks, and juices. Well, sugar comes in many forms such as honey, corn syrup, crystallized fructose, agave nectar, brown rice syrup, cane sugar and so on. Avoid these foods like the plague.
Avoid foods that dehydrate you
There are foods and drinks that dehydrate you, such as alcohol. If you are already suffering from this condition, make sure you completely strike off alcohol from your diet.
What Foods to Avoid to Prevent Kidney Stones – Foods High in Oxalates
Oxalate and calcium are conjoined in the digestive tract before reaching the kidneys. You have a higher chance of stone formation if you have high-oxalate foods and calcium-rich foods at the same time. Check out the no-no foods from your kidney stone diet.
- Sweet potatoes
- Wheat Bran
- Soy products
Eat less protein, especially animal protein
Nowadays, most fad diets helping you lose weight within a stipulated time are usually high in protein. A protein-rich diet is acidic and may increase acid in your urine. High urine acid leads to uric acid and also calcium oxalate kidney stones.
What Foods to Avoid with Kidney Stones
Protein-rich foods make an acidic environment in your body, which forms kidney stones. So, what foods to avoid with kidney stones?
Avoid vitamin C supplements
Supplementation is effective only when under proper guidance. When it comes to forming kidney stones, too much Vitamin C supplementation can lead to kidney stones, especially in men.
Vitamin C rich foods, however, do not pose such a risk.
Try herbal remedies
Chanca Piedra is a popular ‘stone breaker,’ and is a great herbal remedy to treat kidney stones. The herb is particularly effective in preventing calcium-oxalate stones from forming. It also reduces the size of the existing stones. But be wary of using remedies which are not very well-researched.
All about the Kidney Stone Diet
Kidney stones keep re-occurring. So, in order to prevent them from developing and slashing the risk of their re-occurrence, drink lots of water. Also, reduce your salt intake and animal protein and limit the foods that are high in oxalates, and go easy on high on calcium supplements.
Many dieticians and nephrologists recommend the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet for people with suffering from kidney stones. This diet is great for combating kidney stones, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. The DASH diet encourages you to maintain a healthy diet that has loads of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. In this diet, you reduce the consumption of foods such as sodium, sugar, and red meat.
What Foods Help Prevent Kidney Stones
Keep a tab on some of the foods that you should and should not eat to prevent kidney stones or to get rid of them if you are currently suffering from the condition.
- Calcium and oxalate-rich foods
While we have already discussed the foods which we must avoid, there are foods which are rich in calcium, such as milk and milk products that can reduce the formation of kidney stones. So, if you are having more foods such as spinach, you should increase the number of foods which are rich in calcium. This will help the calcium and oxalate to bind together in the intestines and reduce the chances of kidney stone development.
Take a look at some of the foods here:
- Milk and milk-based products
- Calcium-fortified foods such as cereal, bread, and juices
- Beets on a spinach salad, adding cheese to the mix
- Yogurt with berries
Fruits and veggies
Whatever may be your health condition, a generous amount of fruits and veggies should be an integral part of your diet. Try and include more fresh fruits, instead of dried or frozen foods. Also, continue to add more veggies to your diet. Foods rich in citric acid may help in treating kidney stones. Additionally, try and steer clear of fruits and veggies that are high on oxalates. Or even if you are consuming them, consume them with calcium-rich foods.
Every extra drop counts, so drink more of water, it helps dissolve uric acid and cystine stones. Besides water, you can also add other beverages. However, it is important to check sodium levels in the beverage.
Too much of animal -protein may prove to be harmful to your health in the long run, (smaller amounts are allowed). Opt for plant-based protein sources such as peas, beans, and lentils. If you aren’t able to chalk out your protein needs, discuss it out with your doctor or your nutritionist. He/she will provide customized dietary solutions.
The link between Certain Medications and Kidney Stones
There are certain over-the-counter medications that may enable the formation of kidney stones, some of the medications are as follows,
- protease inhibitors
- uricosuric drugs
- chemotherapy drugs
These medications may lead to the formation of kidney stones, especially when you are taking them for a very long time. Talk it out with your doctor to find the alternatives to these medications. Also, you shouldn’t stop taking this medication on your own whim, you can stop prescription medications only when the doctor gives his nod of approval.
Kidney Stone Prevention Tips
Yes, you can prevent kidney stones, if you take the right steps. The process is simple and easy-to-follow, make proper lifestyle changes to treat the condition.
- Can exercise exacerbate the kidney stone condition? Going for heavy exercise saunas or hot yoga is terrific for your health but may lead to the formation of kidney stones. The more you sweat, the more you lose water, and you urinate less. When you urinate less, the stone-causing minerals settle and bond in the kidneys and urinary tract.
No, do not give up on exercise just yet, have more of H2O, which will help you urinate more and inhibit the formation of kidney stones.
- Is calcium the culprit? – Calcium has gotten the bad rap when it comes to the development of kidney stones. But, reducing calcium is not the answer, what works is combining calcium-rich foods with oxalate-rich foods and reducing your salt intake to a great extent.
- Chances of re-occurrence – While passing a kidney stone may prove to be one of the most painful experiences ever, this does not stop with one. Having one may increase your chances of having another. While patients rush to their doctors when they pass a kidney stone, they hardly follow the diet and the medication that their doctor prescribes for them. So, have you passed a kidney stone? You ought to make the right dietary adjustments; stones come back and if they make a habit of coming back, there may be an underlying cause of this condition, such as a kidney disease.
The solution is simple, eat less salt and drink more water. The kidney stone diet includes the following: high calcium, low refined sugar, low sodium, normal protein, the right oxalate management and so on. If you stick to the basic rules, you will be able to prevent the disease. Even if you are suffering from this condition, you will be able to control the symptoms and stop it from re-occurring. So, prevent and treat kidney stones with a practical and holistic approach!