If you’ve ever had a kidney stone, you surely remember it. The pain can be unbearable, coming in waves until the tiny stone passes through your urinary plumbing and out of the body. For many, kidney stones aren’t a one-time thing: in about half of people who have had one, another appears within seven years without preventive measures.
There’s no one sure way to prevent kidney stones, especially if you have a family history of the condition. A combination of diet and lifestyle changes, as well as some medications, may help reduce your risk.
Ways To Prevent Kidney Stones | Urologists Omaha
Drink Lots of Water
Getting enough fluid is vital for stone prevention. Without enough water, urine becomes more concentrated, potentially leading to stone formation. On the other hand, sugary fruit juices and cola drinks seem to increase the risk of forming stones. Stick to water and water-dense foods like cucumbers and watermelon.
Get a minimum of two liters of liquid per day; more if you’re exercising or sweating. Bonus tip: add a squeeze of lemon to your water; potassium citrate found in lemons can help protect against stones.
Get the calcium you need
Getting too little calcium in your diet can cause oxalate levels to rise and cause calcium phosphate stones. To prevent this, make sure to take in an amount of calcium appropriate to your age. Ideally, obtain calcium from foods, since some studies have linked taking calcium supplements to kidney stones. Men 50 and older should get 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day, along with 800 to 1,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D to help the body absorb the calcium.
Eat less sodium
A high-salt diet increases your risk of calcium kidney stones. According to the Urology Care Foundation, too much salt in the urine prevents calcium from being reabsorbed from the urine to the blood. This causes high urine calcium, which may lead to kidney stones.
Eating less salt helps keep urine calcium levels lower. The lower the urine calcium, the lower the risk of developing kidney stones.
To reduce your sodium intake, read food labels carefully.
Foods notorious for being high in sodium include:
- processed foods, such as chips and crackers
- canned soups
- canned vegetables
- lunch meat
- foods that contain monosodium glutamate
- contain sodium nitrate
- sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
To flavor foods without using salt, try fresh herbs or a salt-free, herbal seasoning blend.
Balance Your Protein With Fruits and Veggies
Studies suggest that people who eat a plant-based diet tend to have a lower incidence of kidney stones (about 1/3 the rate). One reason may be that animal protein makes the urine more acidic, which can contribute to stones. Note: You don't have to eat less meat to prevent kidney stones. Rather, balance out the acidity by eating lots of alkaline-forming fruits and veggies.
Avoid stone-forming foods
Beets, chocolate, spinach, rhubarb, tea, and most nuts are rich in oxalate, and colas are rich in phosphate, both of which can contribute to kidney stones. If you suffer from stones, your doctor may advise you to avoid these foods or to consume them in smaller amounts.
For everyone else, particular foods and drinks are unlikely to trigger kidney stones unless consumed in extremely high amounts. Some studies have shown that men who take high doses of vitamin C in the form of supplements are at slightly higher risk of kidney stones. That may be because the body converts vitamin C into oxalate.
Avoid vitamin C supplements
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) supplementation may cause kidney stones, especially in men.
According to one 2013 study Trusted Source, men who took high doses of vitamin C supplements doubled their risk of forming a kidney stone. Researchers don’t believe vitamin C from food carries the same risk.
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