What are kidney stones? Kidney stones, or renal calculi, are solid masses made of crystals. Kidney stones usually originate in your kidneys. However, they can develop anywhere along your urinary tract, which consists of these parts: kidneys, ureters, bladder, urethra. Kidney stones are one of the most painful medical conditions. The causes of kidney stones vary according to the type of stone.
Types of kidney stones: Not all kidney stones are made up of the same crystals. The different types of kidney stones include:
– Calcium: Calcium stones are the most common. They’re often made of calcium oxalate (though they can consist of calcium phosphate or maleate). Eating fewer oxalate-rich foods can reduce your risk of developing this type of stone. High-oxalate foods include: potato chips, peanuts, chocolate, beets, and spinach. However, even though some kidney stones are made of calcium, getting enough calcium in your diet can prevent stones from forming.
– Uric acid: This type of kidney stone is more common in men than in women. They can occur in people with gout or those going through chemotherapy. This type of stone develops when urine is too acidic. A diet rich in purines can increase urine’s acidic level. Purine is a colorless substance in animal proteins, such as fish, shellfish, and meats.
– Struvite: This type of stone is found mostly in women with urinary tract infections (UTIs). These stones can be large and cause urinary obstruction. They result from a kidney infection. Treating an underlying infection can prevent the development of struvite stones.
– Cystine: Cystine stones are rare. They occur in both men and women who have the genetic disorder cystinuria. With this type of stone, cystine — an acid that occurs naturally in the body — leaks from the kidneys into the urine.
Risk factors for kidney stones: The greatest risk factor for kidney stones is making less than 1 liter of urine per day. This is why kidney stones are common in premature infants who have kidney problems. However, kidney stones are most likely to occur in people between the ages of 20 and 50. Different factors can increase your risk of developing a stone. In the United States, white people are more likely to have kidney stones than black people. Sex also plays a role. More men than women develop kidney stones, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). A history of kidney stones can increase your risk. So does a family history of kidney stones. Other risk factors include: dehydration, obesity, a diet with high levels of protein, salt, or glucose, hyperparathyroid condition, gastric bypass surgery, inflammatory bowel diseases that increase calcium absorption, taking medications such as triamterene diuretics, antiseizure drugs, and calcium-based antacids.
Making small adjustments to your current diet and nutrition plan may go a long way toward preventing kidney stones. So, we have carefully picked out 4 Ways to prevent kidney stones naturally. Here they are:
1. Stay hydrated: Drinking more water is the best way to prevent kidney stones. If you don’t drink enough, your urine output will be low. Low urine output means your urine is more concentrated and less likely to dissolve urine salts that cause stones. Lemonade and orange juice are also good options. They both contain citrate, which may prevent stones from forming. Try to drink around eight glasses of fluids daily, or enough to pass two liters of urine. If you exercise or sweat a lot, or if you have a history of cystine stones, you’ll need additional fluids. You can tell whether you’re hydrated by looking at the color of your urine — it should be clear or pale yellow. If it’s dark, you need to drink more.
2. Eat more calcium-rich foods: The most common type of kidney stone is the calcium oxalate stone, leading many people to believe they should avoid eating calcium. The opposite is true. Low-calcium diets may increase your kidney stone risk and your risk of osteoporosis. Calcium supplements, however, may increase your risk of stones. Taking calcium supplements with a meal may help reduce that risk. Shop for calcium supplements. Low-fat milk, low-fat cheese, and low-fat yogurt are all good calcium-rich food options.
3. 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, condiments, foods that contain monosodium glutamate, foods that contain sodium nitrate, foods that contain sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). To flavor foods without using salt, try fresh herbs or a salt-free, herbal seasoning blend.
4. Eat fewer oxalate-rich foods: Some kidney stones are made of oxalate, a natural compound found in foods that binds with calcium in the urine to form kidney stones. Limiting oxalate-rich foods may help prevent the stones from forming. Foods high in oxalates are: spinach, chocolate, sweet potatoes, coffee, beets, peanuts, rhubarb, soy products and wheat bran. Oxalate and calcium bind together in the digestive tract before reaching the kidneys, so it’s harder for stones to form if you eat high-oxalate foods and calcium-rich foods at the same time.
Your doctor may prescribe medications to help prevent the formation of calcium and uric acid stones. If you’ve had a kidney stone or you’re at risk for a kidney stone, speak with your doctor and discuss the best methods of prevention.
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