Tips to avoid Kidney Stones

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A kidney stone may be one of the most painful experiences for anyone. The pain is unbearable right till is passes out of the urinary tract. The most frustrating part is that this is not a one-time thing. For many patients, kidney stones recur if preventive measures are not adopted.

It occurs when certain chemicals (usually calcium along with oxalate or phosphorus) get concentrated and crystallise. After a while, these crystals grow bigger and bigger and become painful while it passes through the urinary tract and sometimes gets stuck in the middle and blocks the flow of urine.

One can prevent kidney stones by eliminating the reasons and conditions leading to its formation. Let’s analyse few popular tricks:

Drinking lots of water: This is one of the most basic and easy method to follow. Drinking water enables the dilution of the chemicals leading to the formation of stones. The general trick is to drink as much water to pass out minimum of 2litres of water. While you require any kind of fluid to pass that amount of urine, our safe bet is on water. Juices like cranberry and grapefruit should be avoided as they have high content of oxalates. Also many juices are high source of sugar and salt and might lead to chemical build-up in the body. Drinking clean and safe water prevents further chemicals from entering the system and enabling the kidney stones to further grow. Remember, even one glass of soda per day puts you at a 23% risk of developing kidney stones. Adding citrus based fluids like lemon, orange, lime and vinegar in the diet enables the dissolution of kidney stones and also prevents further recurrence. This can be achieved by adding these in the daily water intake along with apple cider vinegar. Also, drinking a concoction of 2oz organic olive oil with 2oz organic lemon juice and then a drink of 12oz water helps in keeping the kidneys clean.

Giving your body the right amount of calcium: Low calcium intake leads to high levels of oxalate in the body which leads to kidney stones. One should take the appropriate amount of calcium required by them to keep their body free from the harmful oxalate pile-up. It is observed that the calcium binds with the oxalates to form calcium oxalate which can be flushed from our system easily. Patients must substitute calcium supplements with a diet of natural calcium obtained from leafy vegetables, nuts, milk, and butter. One must also take a necessary dosage of VitaminD and also to ensure the absorption of the calcium. Vitamin B and magnesium are very essential in fighting off the oxalate. The point to be noted here is that while calcium is very important in reducing oxalate concentration, it is equally important for the calcium to be absorbed by the body or it may lead to its accumulation in the kidney thus causing renal blockage.

Reducing sodium Intake: A high-sodium diet increases calcium content in the urine. It is observed that a hypercalciuria is present in 80% of kidney stone patients and people with high blood pressure are more likely to get kidney stones. It is very essential to reduce sodium salt intake to an average 2500mg per day for normal people and to 1500 or less for patients with a history of kidney stones. Patients suffering from kidney related ailments have increased complications due to the accumulation of sodium and water in the body resulting in further kidney deterioration.

Limiting consumption of Animal Protein: Non vegetarians consuming animal proteins like red meat, poultry, eggs and sea foods are at a higher risk of getting kidney stones. Non-vegetarian food increases the uric content in the body and also decreases the level of citrate from the body. This results in less alkalinity in the body and increased acidity. Hypocitraturia, or the reduction in citrate levels increases the risk of kidney stones as this citrate acts as an inhibitor of calcium crystallization in urine leading to stones. Reducing or avoiding high protein food is not only good for our kidneys but also for our heart health.

Avoiding stone forming kidney stones: Avoiding food which enables oxalates formation is good. But better still is avoiding all the items which leads to kidney stones in the first place. Let us understand what things we need to avoid:

  1. Soy and soy based products- These products contain high concentrations of oxalate and phytate. This is a main reason behind formation of kidney stones.
  2. Caffeine-This is again a product with high amount of oxalate. It also leads to dehydration of body fluids resulting in concentration of urine thus forming kidney stones.
  3. Processed and canned food and meat- These food items contain high amount of salt used as a preservative. This will lead to decrease in citrate levels and increased concentration of calcium.
  4. Avoiding nuts, black tea and other oxalate and phosphate rich food is a great way to avoid kidney stones.

While it is impractical to avoid all the food at all times, we need to be under strict caution to ensure we don’t overdo any of it which might compromise our renal health. It is highly improbable that a specific food or drink might lead to renal stones unless it is taken in huge quantities. A healthy lifestyle and food habit is very essential along with lot of water ensures a good and healthy kidney health and avoid stone formation.

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