What are kidney stones exactly?
As the National Kidney Foundation explains, “kidney stones are hard little substances made from chemicals in the urine.” These stones may remain in the kidneys or travel down the urinary tract into the ureters. Small stones may move through the system without causing too much pain, but larger stones that do not pass may cause a back-up of urine in the kidneys, ureters, bladder, or urethra. This causes pain.
The pain of a kidney stone is excruciating. Unfortunately, about 1 in 10 people will have at least one kidney stone during their lifetime.
Although the exact cause of kidney stones is not known, certain factors increase risk. For example, having had weight-loss surgery or having a history of cystine stones in your family, for example. Not to mention, your chance of developing a second kidney stone goes up dramatically after your first one
Is there anything that can be done to prevent kidney stones?
Like all content on our blog, the information provided in this article is meant to be educational in nature. Consult a physician regarding your specific health needs, especially if you’ve experienced kidney stones before.
#1. Stay Hydrated
The main risk factor for kidney stones is dehydration, so staying hydrated throughout the day can help prevent them from forming. This means drinking enough water throughout the day and avoiding drinks that contain caffeine or alcohol (because these will dehydrate you). Not only does this help keep the urine at the right consistency and dilute the minerals that may cause the stones, but it also helps flush out waste products through urination.
If you’re prone to kidney stones, it is recommended that you drink at least two liters of water every day. If you have trouble remembering how much you drink, keep a bottle of water with you at all times, and make sure that it’s always full.
Hydration is a key part of any healthy diet. Certain foods, like watermelon and cucumber, are also hydrational, so they can be beneficial to your diet.
#2 Less Salt
Consuming less salt can help prevent kidney stones.
Many people have small amounts of calcified material in their kidneys, but those with larger amounts are more likely to develop kidney stones. While many factors contribute to the formation of kidney stones, reducing salt intake is one way to decrease your risk of developing them.
If you have trouble avoiding salt, try using an alternative like sea salt or Himalayan pink salt instead—they contain less sodium than regular table salt, which can help make it easier for you to reduce your overall intake.
#3 Cutting down animal protein intake
It’s important to cut back on your animal protein intake to prevent kidney stones. Animal protein is a risk factor for forming kidney stones. When the protein in meat is digested, it forms amino acids, which create an acidic environment in the kidneys that can lead to stone formation.
#4 Add lemons to your diet
Lemons are high in citrate, which inhibits stone formation and helps prevent existing stones from getting larger. Lemons also have high levels of potassium, which helps prevent calcium from depositing in your kidneys and causing stones. Adding three ounces of lemon juice daily to your diet can help ward off kidney stones, particularly calcium oxalate stones, which are the most common.