What Are Kidney Stones?
Essentially, kidney stones are hard deposits consisting of minerals, salts, and other compounds from the urine. These hard objects are formed inside your kidneys.
Typically, kidney stones exit via the urine with next-to-no pain. However, large kidney stones can cause varying degrees of discomfort, as well as other health complications. In severe cases, a person might even require surgery. So, let’s examine this topic a little more in-depth. What causes kidney stones, and how do you prevent them?
What Causes Kidney Stones?
While there is often no definite cause of kidney stones, some possibilities include exercising too much or too little, consuming not enough water, obesity, eating food containing too much sugar or salt, and certain diets, such as high protein or high salt diets.
Additionally, if someone in your family experiences kidney stones, you are more likely also to experience them. Gastric bypass surgery, chronic diarrhea, and inflammatory bowel disease might also lead to kidney stones.
The larger the kidney stone, the more likely you will have symptoms. These can include:
- Severe lower back or side pain.
- Blood in your urine.
- Difficulty urinating.
- Vomiting or nausea.
- Chills and fever.
In some cases, pain relievers can help. This is typical when the kidney stones are small. However, if you have severe pain, it’s likely best to get yourself to an emergency hospital and get everything checked out. As previously mentioned, in severe kidney stone cases, surgery might be necessary.
Preventing Kidney Stones
Preventing kidney stones often comes down to lifestyle changes, including the following.
1. Drinking Enough Water Daily
The human body is about 60% water. Thus, it’s safe to say that your body requires a ton of hydration throughout your day to keep everything running in tip-top shape. If you’re prone to kidney stones, most experts recommend consuming at least two and a half liters of water each day. Ideally, you want to be passing about two liters of urine daily.
This means that if you live in a warmer climate or exercise frequently, you may need to down more water to make up for fluids lost via sweat.
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2. Reducing Oxalate-Rich Foods
Calcium oxalates are a type of kidney stone. If you tend to produce these types of kidney stones, it’s probably a good idea to do a thorough assessment of your diet. This will involve reducing or limiting oxalate-rich foods. These include berries, beets, spinach, rhubarb, tea, chocolate, nuts, soy products, wheat bran, and black pepper.
Instead, consume more bananas, grapes, melons, cucumbers, cabbage, peas, milk, butter, cheese, bacon, ham, beef, chicken, and citrus fruits. Just because you have kidney stones, it doesn’t mean your diet has to be overly restrictive. Even with oxalate-rich foods out of the equation, there are still plenty of options.
3. Decreasing Your Salt and Animal Protein Intake
A high sodium diet increases the likelihood that you’ll develop kidney stones since it increases calcium in the urine. In fact, many individuals are consuming too much sodium in their daily diet, leading to issues like high blood pressure. Thus, it can be beneficial to reduce or limit it.
Additionally, improving your carbs-fats-protein ratio can help reduce your chances of kidney stones. This is because high amounts of protein cause your kidneys also to excrete more calcium, leading to the formation of kidney stones. By reducing or limiting the amount of animal protein in your diet, you can avoid these situations altogether.
4. Avoiding Calcium Supplements
Surprisingly, calcium in whole foods doesn’t have an impact on kidney stone development. However, calcium supplements are linked to increased kidney stones. If you do happen to take calcium supplements, try to consume them alongside food and according to your doctor’s recommendations or advice.
5. Maintaining and Creating Overall Healthy Habits
When it comes to most health problems and diseases, it always helps to examine ways to improve your overall health. For example, obesity is a major risk factor for the development of kidney stones. If you’re overweight, you may want to look at healthy ways to lose weight and improve your health.
This might mean:
- Consuming more whole foods.
- Exercising regularly.
- Obtaining adequate sleep.
- Ensuring you’re consuming a balanced and healthy diet.
- Reducing stress in your life.
Tracking Your History
If you find you frequently get kidney stones, it can also help to keep track. Start a journal and document when they occur. What did you eat recently? What symptoms did you have? Answer these questions, then when you book a visit with your doctor, you’ll be well-equipped with information as to what is going on. This can help your doctor better determine treatment and how to prevent any future kidney stones.
Remember, the best form of healthcare is prevention. If you can prevent ill health or health situations, like kidney stones, from happening in the first place, you can continue to live your life the way you want and without pain or ill health standing in your way!