Kidney stones are deposits of minerals and salts that are formed inside your kidneys, when either there is a reduction in the volume of urine or there is presence of excessive substances that form stones in the urine. Passing kidney stones through the urine can be an extremely painful event. Kidney stones are of different kinds based on their composition. They can be calcium oxalate stones, calcium phosphate stones, uric acid stones and cystine stones. Kidney stones can be managed and prevented by dietary and lifestyle changes. Some of the measures you can take to prevent kidney stones are described below.
The primary cause of kidney stone formation is not drinking enough water. This causes the urine to become concentrated with accumulation of substances that are responsible for kidney stone formation. Drinking plenty of water dilutes your urine and decreases the concentration of stone forming substances in the urine. Everyone needs different quantities of water to fulfill their body’s daily needs. You will know that you are drinking sufficient amount of water if you pass around 2L of urine per day. You can also check if you are consuming enough water by noticing the color of your urine. If your urine is very light yellow in color then you are drinking sufficient amount of water.
Earlier patients suffering from kidney stones were asked to avoid calcium rich foods in their diet. However, recent research shows that people who consumed a calcium rich diet had a lower risk of developing kidney stones when compared to people who did not include calcium in their diet. Calcium present in food, when enters the intestines binds the oxalates present there. This prevents both calcium and oxalate from entering the blood and then the kidneys. It is only when there is a high concentration of calcium oxalate in the kidneys that you have an increased risk of kidney stone formation. Therefore, calcium present in the food prevents calcium stone formation. But you should still avoid calcium supplements as unlike calcium from food calcium from supplements can increase your risk of developing kidney stones by 20%.
Consuming a high sodium diet increases your risk of developing kidney stones. This is because high sodium in the urine prevents the re absorption of calcium, thereby, increasing the risk of kidney stone formation. How to prevent kidney stones? It is suggested that limiting your sodium consumption to 2300 mg reduces the formation of kidney stones. If you are already suffering from kidney stones than this amount of sodium is reduced to 1500 mg.
It is recommended that you decrease oxalate rich foods in your diet to prevent the formation of calcium oxalate kidney stones. Avoid or reduce the intake of oxalate rich foods such as chocolates, spinach, sweet potatoes, coffee, peanuts and soy products. However, if you consume same quantity of calcium rich and oxalate rich foods formation of calcium oxalate kidney stones can be prevented. This is due to the reason described above that calcium present in food, when enters the intestines binds the oxalates present there.
Animal proteins such as red meat, poultry, eggs and seafood increase uric acid levels, leading to kidney stone formation. Try to reduce the intake of animal proteins in your diet. However, to maintain your health you still need adequate amount of proteins in your diet. Try to substitute animal proteins by plant based proteins. Plant based proteins are found in legumes (beans, lentils and peas), soy based foods and nuts (peanuts, almonds, cashews etc). It is recommended that you consult your doctor about how much protein you should consume on a daily basis.
In a research study, consuming vitamin C supplements has been linked to development of kidney stones in men. However, a similar effect was not seen in women. Vitamin C is believed to help combat cold and it is also needed for healthy bones and skin. Men need 90 mg and women need 75 mg of vitamin C per day. Commonly vitamin C supplements contain 1000 mg of Vitamin C per tablet. It has been found that consuming more than seven vitamin C tablets per day increased the risk of developing kidney stones. The excess vitamin C in the body is excreted as oxalate increasing the risk of developing calcium oxalate stones. However, foods rich in vitamin C such as red pepper, papaya and bell peppers do not produce the same effect. How to prevent kidney stones? It is recommended that you avoid vitamin C supplements especially if you already have a history of developing kidney stones.
Vitamin D is essential for efficient metabolism of calcium. Vitamin A and K2 are required to regulate the effect of vitamin D to ensure that calcium is deposited in our bones and does not enter the arteries. Patients suffering from kidney stones usually have excess vitamin D and are deficient in vitamin A and vitamin K2. Excess vitamin D has been linked to kidney stone formation. It is important to maintain a balance between vitamin A and vitamin D as an excess of one vitamin can lead to a deficiency of the other vitamin. Eat a balanced meal with sufficient amounts of vitamin A, D and K2 to prevent kidney stone formation. You can also consume supplements for these vitamins after consulting your doctor.
Conventionally lemon water has been used to prevent kidney stone formation. Citric acid in lemon water binds the calcium in the urine preventing it from forming calcium oxalate crystals. Citric acid in lemon water also prevents the small calcium oxalate crystals from growing bigger. Lemon water consumption results in acidic urine and both calcium oxalate and uric acid crystals cannot form in this acidic environment. You can add half a cup of lemon juice to a 32 ounce bottle of water. Drink this water throughout the day. You can also try drinking apple cider vinegar for a similar effect as it also contains citric acid.
How to prevent kidney stones? Magnesium has been found to reduce kidney stone formation. You should eat magnesium rich foods such as pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews and spinach to prevent kidney stones. Furthermore, you can also take magnesium supplements if you suffer from magnesium deficiency. If you are already suffering from kidney stones ensure you are consuming sufficient magnesium. It is recommended that you take 400 mg of magnesium either in the form of magnesium citrate or magnesium maleate.
A diet rich in sugar increases the risk of kidney stone formation. Sugar interferes with calcium and magnesium absorption in the body leading to electrolyte imbalance. A research study has linked consumption of sodas to an increased tendency to formation of kidney stones.