Kidney stones are a very common health problem. They form from the chemicals in urine, such as uric acid, phosphorous, calcium and oxalic acid. Irrespective of the size of the kidney stones, they can cause severe pain. Other symptoms include a desire to urinate frequently, painful urination, nausea, vomiting and excessive sweating. Most stones occur when calcium combines with one of two substances- oxalate or phosphorous. Stones can also form from uric acid, which forms as the body metabolizes protein. Preventing kidney stones means preventing the conditions that support their formation. Here are the top ways to prevent kidney stones:
LIMIT ANIMAL PROTEIN
Eating too much animal protein, such as red meat, poultry, eggs, and seafood, boosts the level of uric acid and could lead to kidney stones. A high-protein diet also reduces levels of citrate, the chemical in urine that helps prevent stones from forming. If you’re prone to stones, limit your daily meat intake to a quantity that is no bigger than a pack of playing cards. This is also a heart-healthy portion.
DRINK PLENTY OF WATER
For people with a history of kidney stones, doctors usually recommend passing about 2.6 quarts (2.5 litres) of urine a day. If you live in a hot, dry climate or you exercise frequently, you may need to drink even more water to produce enough urine. If your urine is light and clear, you’re likely drinking enough water.
A high-sodium diet can trigger kidney stones because it increases the amount of calcium in your urine. So a low-sodium diet is recommended for the stone prone. Current guidelines suggest limiting total daily sodium intake to 2,300 mg. If sodium has contributed to kidney stones in the past, try to reduce your daily intake to 1,500 mg.
DRINK LEMON WATER
While lemon water is often touted as a cleansing or alkalizing drink, the main reason it is helpful in reducing stone formation is its citric acid content. Citric acid (not to be confused with vitamin C or ascorbic acid) inhibits stone formation and breaks up small stones that are beginning to form. It works in a few different ways. Citrate binds with calcium in the urine, reducing the amount of calcium available to form calcium oxalate stones. You’ll need about a half a cup (4 oz) of lemon juice added to water throughout the day to get the same benefits as taking a potassium citrate pill, which is one of the standard pharmaceutical treatments for kidney stones.
EAT FEWER OXALATE-RICH FOODS
If you tend to form calcium oxalate stones, your doctor may recommend restricting foods rich in oxalates. These include rhubarb, beets, okra, spinach, Swiss chard, sweet potatoes, nuts, tea, chocolate and soy products.
EAT CALCIUM AS PER YOUR NEEDS
Getting too little calcium in your diet can cause oxalate levels to rise and cause kidney 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.
- Try to eat one whole pomegranate or drink one glass of freshly squeezed pomegranate juice daily. You can mix pomegranate in a fruit salad also.
- Watermelon is a great way to prevent kidney stones composed of calcium and magnesium phosphates and carbonates. The potassium present in watermelon is an essential ingredient for healthy kidneys. It helps regulate and maintain the acid level in urine.
- Whole grain-rich diets have been associated with a reduction of kidney stones as they contain sufficient amounts of vitamins, minerals, and fibre.
- Wheatgrass juice is highly effective in preventing kidney stones and other kidney diseases naturally. You can also have a glass of wheatgrass juice mixed with one teaspoon each of lemon juice and juice extracted from basil leaves.