Kidney stones (Renal Calculi) are hard mineral deposits mainly calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate deposits that get accumulated in the kidneys. They cause excruciating pain when they pass through the urinary tract. Middle age men are more likely to get kidney stones but it can happen with people of other age and gender too. If a person had kidney stones, he is likely to get them again in life.
The Kidney stone is a term that covers different types of solid crystals. Crystalline stones are hereditary and run in the family which means people get stones if they have relatives who have them too. Very large kidney stones are called Struvites which are more common in women. There are Uric acid stones that are found in people suffering from chronic issues like Gout or in patients undergoing chemotherapy. Obese people are at a higher risk of developing kidney stones and the ones with diabetes also have more chances of getting them. Kidney infections and kidney disorders are also responsible for developing stones.
A combination of diet and lifestyle changes along with some medications helps in reducing the risk of kidney stones. Some natural ways to prevent kidney stones from being formed are mentioned below:
1. Staying Hydrated
Loss of water from the body in the form of sweat due to rigorous exercise or extreme weather leads to less urine production. Less urine leads the stone causing minerals to settle and bond in the kidneys and urinary tract leading to fully formed stones. Drinking plenty of water is the simplest and most effective way to prevent the formation of stones in the kidneys. Keeping oneself well hydrated helps to pass off the stones and prevent the new ones completely. 8 glasses of clean water at normal room temperature is the easiest way to avoid stone formations in kidneys.
2. Get Enough Calcium
Less calcium in the diet causes oxalate levels to rise and develops kidney stones. A diet with 3 to 4 servings of low-fat dairy foods like low fat milk, low fat cheese, low fat yogurt is a good way to prevent kidney stones. One should eat plenty of raw vegetables in the form of salad using low sodium dressings. This gives adequate calcium to the body without increasing the chance of developing stones.
If opting for calcium supplements, then make sure to take it along with Vitamin D as Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium. Calcium supplements should be taken after meals so that the calcium can bind with the oxalates in the food and prevent stone formation.
3. Reduce the intake of Sodium/ Salt
Excess sodium in the diet, causes the kidneys to release calcium in urine which leads to kidney stones development. Too much salt in urine prevents calcium from being reabsorbed from the urine to the blood leading to high urine calcium. It is recommended to keep the sodium intake to less than 3000 mg per day. Processed and canned foods should be strictly avoided. If sodium has led to kidney stone in the past, then limit the daily intake to 1500 mg.
4. Reduce the intake of Oxalate Rich Foods
Oxalates are organic compound found in foods like spinach. nuts, tofu, cocoa, swiss chard, beets, peanuts, coffee, wheat bran, soya, rhubarb. black tea and sweet potatoes. They bind with certain minerals like calcium and form kidney stones. A diet low in oxalates is an easy way to prevent the formation of kidney stones. If one is eating oxalate rich foods, it is necessary to consume adequate amounts of calcium rich foods because oxalate and calcium binds together in the digestive tract before reaching the kidneys.
5. Consume Less Animal Protein
Meats or foods high in animal protein are acidic and increases the uric acid which leads to both uric acid stones and calcium oxalate kidney stones. It is necessary to avoid beef, fish/seafoods, pork, poultry (chicken, eggs).
6. Consume Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar is considered to be the healthiest way to prevent kidney stones. A spoon of ACV in a glass of warm water on an empty stomach is the best way to prevent kidney stones formation. Honey may be added for taste.
7. Increase intake of Vitamin C
A diet rich in vitamin C is a natural way to prevent kidney stones. Citrus beverages like lemonade and fresh orange juice should be consumed as the citrate present in it helps to block the stone formation. Lemonades also help in making the body alkaline and help the urine to pass off stones naturally. Vitamin C supplements should be avoided.
8. Consume Chanca Piedra Herb
A herb called Chanca Piedra is a popular ‘stone breaker’. It is known to prevent calcium oxalate stones from forming and also reduces the size of existing stones.
Other ways to prevent kidney stones is consuming Dandelion tea every morning, taking fish oil supplements, consuming potassium and magnesium rich foods and increasing the intake of kidney beans. Making your body more alkaline is a good way to prevent kidney stones as these stones thrive in an acidic environment. Taking half a spoon of baking soda with water at bedtime is a good way to make body alkaline.
Avoid Coke and caffeinated beverages that are high in fructose and phosphates as they may lead to kidney stones.
It is very important to prevent sulfates in foods. Sulfates are common in food preservatives, they affect the calcium levels in the body and cause kidney stones. Always check food labels before buying a product.
Maintaining a healthy weight with exercise and a balanced diet is the easiest solution to prevent kidney stones in both men and women. Excess weight increases uric acid in the body and leads to stones.
Prevention of kidney stones isn’t complicated but it does require lots of determination. In this case the person has already passed out a kidney stone, it is important for them to take targeted steps to prevent the formation of new ones. A little change in diet goes a long way in preventing them.