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August 20, 2018

10 Ways on How to Prevent Kidney Stones

Getting kidney stones can be extremely painful. Knowing how to prevent kidney stones can help prevent the reoccurrence of this not-so-fun condition.

If you just take the route of Western medicine, you may get tempted to take drugs to keep recurring kidney stones at bay. However, even Western medical doctors recognize the important role diet plays in the creation of kidney stones.

how to prevent kidney stones
Artwork courtesy of Pixabay

What Are Kidney Stones?

Kidney stones are painful deposits, often of substances such as minerals, that form in the kidneys. These can get stuck in the ureter, which is the channel by which urine goes into the bladder. Many small stones can pass safely, but when kidney stones grow larger than 5 millimeters, they can get stuck.

Uric acid, calcium, or cysteine, an amino acid made up kidney stones. In the United States, calcium deposits such as calcium oxalate or calcium phosphate made up approximately 80% of all kidney stones.

Risk factors and causes for kidney stone disease, also known as urolithiasis, include:

  • Obesity
  • Excess levels of calcium
  • Gout
  • Dehydration
  • Poor diets
  • Underlying metabolic conditions

Kidney stones generally affect men more than women. On rare occasion, kidney stones can lead to death, but that is quite rare.

How to Prevent Kidney Stones

If you have an underlying medical condition that affects your metabolism, such as Dent’s disease, then proper treatment of the condition is vital. You can prevent many kidney stones, however, by simple changes in diet and lifestyle. These recommended changes include:

1. Lose Weight

Obesity is a major risk factor for kidney stones. Obesity is often associated with a higher intake of processed foods and sugary sodas, which can also contribute to kidney stones. A lack of exercise may also be a factor. Start exercising and you will see improvement in your health. 

2. Eat Less Meat

You don’t have to become a vegetarian altogether to avoid kidney stones, but the fact is, eating meat can increase your risk of the mineral deposits. Vegetarians tend to get kidney stones at a rate of about half as much as meat eaters.  

3. Eat More Vegetables

What may be just as, if not more, important than eating less meat is to eat more vegetables. Consumption of more fresh vegetables can also help with weight loss and overall health. 

4. Stop Drinking Colas

People who have had kidney stones should avoid Sugary sodas especially colas. Colas often contain phosphoric acid, which can increase the risk of more stones. But it’s not just carbonated drinks that are a potential culprit. Even drinking too much apple juice could worsen the potential for kidney stone formation. 

5. Drink More Water

Drink lots of water to help prevent kidney stones. Staying hydrated is critical for the prevention of kidney stones. 

6. Drink Lemonade

The natural citrate found in lemonade and other citrus juices like limeade can help prevent certain types of kidney stones by preventing excess calcium from binding with other minerals. However, added sugar in lemonade can worsen the risk for stones, so use a healthy alternative sweetener like Stevia.   

7. Try a Watermelon Fast

One home remedy for kidney stones is to eat nothing but watermelon for a day. This is supposed to help safely flush out the kidneys. You can also eat watermelon on a regular basis as a preventative tool.  

8. Don’t Overdo the Vitamin C

Vitamin C is often touted as a miracle vitamin that should be taken in excessively high doses to treat all sorts of viruses and diseases. However, if you are at risk for kidney stones, too much vitamin C can be a bad thing.  

9. Reduce Your Salt Intake

Of course, by now, you would expect that sodium (aka salt) would probably be a culprit in kidney stones. Just don’t overdo the salt. See the next bullet point. 

10. Stop Eating Junk Food

Let’s face it. A diet full of junk food is not going to help your body in any way. Constant trips to the fast food burger joint, along with sugary desserts and handfuls of salty snacks won’t make your kidneys happier. And by reducing your intake of junk food, you will automatically lower your sodium intake.

How to Prevent Kidney Stones: Final Thoughts

You can prevent kidney stones by making some minor and/or major adjustments to your diet and lifestyle. Sure, it will be hard to give up some of your favorite foods and drinks like colas, but in the end, it will be worth it. After going through a kidney stone one time, you will probably be highly motivated to make the change.

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Dr. Joe Jacko

Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio at Grandview Primary Care. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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