6 Ways to Prevent Kidney Stones from Forming
Around one million Americans develop kidney stones every year. Unfortunately, according to Harvard Medical, once you have had a kidney stone, the chances are high that they will recur.
Kidney stones are formed when minerals in the urine crystallize. If you have gone through the pain of passing a kidney stone, you will know that prevention is better than cure. Here are 6 tips for preventing kidney stones from forming.
1. Drink Plenty of Water
Kidney stones form when certain minerals are concentrated in the urine and eventually combine to form hard crystals or stones. Drinking plenty of water will reduce the mineral concentration levels and lower the likelihood of stones forming. Figures as high as eight 12-ounce glasses per day are often quoted as being the recommended amount of water you should drink. However, the climate, level of activity and other factors mean that this figure varies for each individual.
A good check is that if your urine is not a pale yellow color, you need to drink more. Be aware that some multivitamins and B supplements do cause dark yellow urine regardless, so use your discretion.
2. Avoid Cola and Grapefruit
Studies have shown that those who drink large amounts of cola or consume grapefruit regularly are at higher risk of developing kidney stones. These are two things to avoid.
3. Eat Calcium-Rich Foods
The two main components that form a kidney stone are calcium and oxalate. Eating calcium-rich foods may seem like a contradiction; however, this is not the case. If you have a calcium-rich diet with plenty of dairy products, leafy green vegetables and oily fish, the calcium binds with the oxalate in the intestine, long before it reaches your urine.
Calcium supplements, strangely, do not work in the same way as calcium in the diet. Studies by the Harvard Nurses Health showed that post-menopausal women who took calcium supplements were 20% more likely to develop kidney stones than those who did not. It is thought that when calcium is consumed in food it is more likely to be combined with oxalate in the intestine, whereas calcium supplements bind with the oxalate later, in the urine, forming kidney stones.
4. Moderate Protein Intake
Eating high levels of protein results in more oxalate, which binds with the calcium to form kidney stones. Protein is also thought to reduce levels of stone-inhibiting substances that are found in urine. Less is best.
5. Control Oxalate Levels
Oxalate levels may be increased by eating large amounts of beets, chocolate, spinach, rhubarb and most nuts. Other dietary factors are higher contributors to causing kidney stones, but if you have had a kidney stone previously, it is wise to minimize intake of these foods.
6. Take Adequate Magnesium
Magnesium deficiency has been linked to kidney stones as it plays an important role in the body’s absorption of calcium. Magnesium also helps prevent oxalate from combining with calcium.
Carolyn Dean MD, ND estimates that up to 80% of the US population is magnesium-deficient, but it is very easy to correct. Magnesium is present in spinach, Swiss chard, oat bran, some beans, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and avocadoes. It is a popular natural supplement and is included in many multivitamins such as IVL’s Women’s Food-based Multivitamin, which contains 250mg, 63% daily value (DV).
By making these simple changes to your diet you can rest assured you are minimizing the likelihood of having kidney stones, or having a repeat occurrence.