Kidney stones are solid, tiny crystals that form in the kidney from substances in the urine. Most kidney stones pass out with our urine without the help of a doctor. However, some of them are quite large and could get stuck in our urinary tract, block the easy flow of urine, and cause discomforting pain and infections.
Signs that you need the attention of a doctor due to kidney stones include; pain at your lower back or side that doesn’t go, vomiting, blood in urine, urine that looks cloudy, urine that smells, and a burning sensation when you urinate.
There are various types of kidney stones. However, those formed due to the combination of calcium and oxalate are the most common. This type of kidney stone is most commonly seen in men between the ages of 20 and 30 years old.
Below are various ways to prevent and treat kidney stones naturally;
1. Reduce Salt Intake
Sodium-rich foods alter the calcium levels in your body which could lead to the formation of kidney stones. This forces your kidney to work extra hard to excrete the excess salt. To keep kidney stones at bay, you should not take more than 1200mg of salt per day (480mg per serving). Apart from consuming a low sodium diet, you can substitute table salt with sea salt, spices, and herbs.
2. Maintain A Healthy Weight
One hour of moderate exercise every day can work wonders in maintaining the right weight. Numerous studies have confirmed that there is a close relationship between obesity and kidney stone. However, this does not mean that you do extreme dieting to lose your fat. You could end up increasing the risk of developing the stones. As a rule of thumb, you should ensure you have the right body mass index. In other words, your weight must match with your height. Just ensure your BMI is not too low or too high.
3. Avoid Excess Caffeine
There is no direct relationship between kidney stones and coffee consumption. However, coffee has a diuretic effect meaning it can cause frequent urination leading to dehydration. So, when you take coffee it’s vital that you take lots of water. Furthermore, drink coffee in moderation. A 250mg (2 cups) of coffee every day is considered safe for most people.
4. Limit Animal Protein Intake
Too much animal protein like poultry, fish, pork, and red meat boosts uric acid in your body which can lead to the formation of kidney stones. Ideally, high protein intake overworks the kidneys making it difficult to excrete the by-products of proteins. Moreover, red meat will lower the pH of your urine which is one of the contributing factors to kidney stones. To combat the stones, you should limit your intake of red meat. It’s also a heart-friendly option.
5. Eat Calcium-Rich Foods
While calcium may sound like a contributing factor to calcium stones, it’s beneficial when taken in the right amount. Calcium helps to block other substances that may cause the stones. You should get calcium from calcium-fortified juices, bread, cereals, and certain types of beans and vegetables. It’s crucial that you take calcium-rich dairy products to reduce the risk of getting symptomatic kidney stones. However, avoid taking calcium supplements.
Regular water intake keeps your urine diluted, thus, reducing the chance of developing kidney stones. If you can’t drink ten glasses of water every day, start with one and increase gradually. The easiest way to check if you have taken enough water is through the color of your urine. If you have dark-colored urine, it means your urine is too concentrated. Always ensure the urine color is clear.
7. Limit High-Oxalate Foods
While oxalate foods are practically unavoidable, you can limit your consumption of such foods. There is scientific evidence that oxalates contribute to the formation of stones by preventing proper absorption of calcium in your body. To reduce the chances of getting kidney stones, consume oxalate-rich foods in moderation. Such foods include spinach, chocolate, beets, okra, strawberries, soy milk, and kales.
8. Reduce Alcohol Intake
Excess alcohol interferes with the proper functioning of the kidney. While there is no direct relationship between alcohol and formation of kidney stones, it can exacerbate the problem. Since alcohol has high purine count, it can lead to the formation of kidney stones. Furthermore, one tends to pass a lot of urine after consumption of alcohol, it’s quite easy to become dehydrated. Conversely, there is scientific evidence that moderate drinking can prevent the formation of stones. However, this does not mean that you take beer to prevent the stones. It’s even better if you can avoid taking them at all.
9. Reduce Sugar Intake
High intake of sugar interferes with the absorption of calcium and magnesium. One study proved that many children are developing kidney stones due to a large intake of sugary drinks. So, when you drink a soda you can easily get calcium oxalate stones. Furthermore, high sugar intake can cause pathological changes in your kidney by increasing the kidney’s size. If you have to take a soda, take diet sodas but in moderation.
10. Take More Citric Acid
There is a conclusive study that shows adding citric acid in your diet can lower the risk of developing kidney stones. At least 60% of the patients who develop kidney stones have low citric acid levels. Regular intake of citric acid in its natural form also aids in breaking down the small stones that may be forming. The best sources of citric acid are lemons and limes. To prevent the stones, take a half cup of lemonade or pure lemon juice every day.
11. Take Lots Of Fruits And Vegetables
Most fruits and vegetables contain fiber, potassium, magnesium, antioxidants, and citrate which help to prevent kidney stones. The mineral, magnesium, aids the body in absorbing the right amount of calcium. Additionally, magnesium inhibits the combination of oxalates with calcium. Make sure you take sufficient amounts of cabbage, broccoli, flax seeds, cheese, butter, and cauliflower.
12. Take Supplements
Prevention of kidney stones is made easier thanks to supplements. The most common supplements, for renal stones, include potassium citrate, vitamin B6, fish oil, and pyridoxine. To bind dietary oxalate, you should consume magnesium when consuming oxalate-rich foods. You could also add vitamin D supplements. Talk to your doctor to advise you how to take the above supplements.
13. Avoid Taking Vitamin C Supplements
Vitamin C is important in repairing the skin, bones, and connective tissues. However, high dose of ascorbic acid, which is basically vitamin C in supplement form, could lead to the formation of kidney stones, especially in men. This is because vitamin C is usually excreted in oxalate form. A typical vitamin C tablet contains 1000mg of ascorbic acid which is too high for a person susceptible to kidney stones. Remember, only vitamin C supplements are linked to kidney stones and not vitamin C rich foods. If you have to take the supplements, talk to your healthcare provider first.
14. Explore Herbal Remedies
There are numerous herbs that can help to prevent kidney stones but the most common one is Chanca Piedra (scientifically known as “Phyllanthus niruri“). This herb helps to crush the stones and flushes them out of your body. If you are susceptible to the development of kidney stones, this herb can inhibit the stone formation and, most importantly, helps to alleviate pain. Other herbs beneficial to the kidney include bearberry and stinging nettle. Most herbal remedies are not well-regulated, so it’s important that you use them with caution.
15. Don’t Ignore When Nature Calls
Holding your pee for too long can cause kidney stones. The stones develop when you have excess calcium and sodium deposits. But with frequent urination, these minerals can be expelled preventing them from settling in your kidneys. If you are likely to develop the stones, holding your urine can increase the likelihood of kidney stone formation.
16. Don’t Use Fluorinated Water
Fluorine water triggers the development of kidney stones. One of the potential red flags that you’ve taken a lot of fluorides is discolored teeth (dental fluorosis). To get rid of the fluoride, set up a reverse osmosis system in your home. Only take pure, filtered water.
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