Kidney stone prevention can be a difficult and painful problem for some people. But, there are things that can be done to help prevent kidney stones.
Some people will produce high levels of certain minerals in their urine because of their metabolism. Your metabolism refers to the way your body processes foods and produces energy. While the basic process is the same for everyone there are slight differences between individuals.
Some people will excrete larger anounts of certain minerals in their urine. Kidney stones form when the mineral concentration in your urine is too high.
1) The amount of a specific mineral
in your urine
2) The amount of fluid in your urine
To reduce the mineral concentration
and prevent kidney stones:
1) You can decrease the amount of the mineral
2) Increase the amount of water in your urine.
This is a very simplistic approach and I know
it is much easier said than done.
Nevertheless, this is the chemistry
and this is the basic problem.
Kidney stone fragments
Image thanks to rjhall, via Wikimedia Commons
Different people metabolize different foods different ways. Some people just naturally produce more of the minerals that form kidney stones in their urine.
This can be influenced by your diet, but before you can plan your diet, you need to know what your kidney stones are made of. This will mean that you need to strain your urine and collect a kidney stone for your doctor to analyze.
Find a registered Dietician
Once you know the composition of your kidney stone you can begin to plan your diet. You need to discuss your specific dietary needs with your doctor or a registered dietitian. But these are some general guidelines.
Many kidney stones have calcium in them but calcium is not the problem. Calcium is an important mineral that serves many valuable functions. Limiting your calcium intake can cause many other problems; and it is not likely to improve kidney stone prevention.
However, scientists have found that a high salt diet increases the amount of calcium in your urine. By reducing the amount of salt that you eat you can reduce the amount of calcium in your urine. This can reduce your risk of kidney stones that contain calcium without robbing it from other important functions.
The most common kidney stones are composed of calcium oxalate. Oxalate is found in many healthy foods, including fruits and vegetables, seeds and nuts, and grains. Eliminating all of the foods that contain oxalate would be a very unhealthy diet.
You can't completely eliminate oxalate
However, avoiding foods that have high levels of oxalate would be a wise choice if you tend to form oxalate kidney stones. Foods that contain high levels of oxalate include peanuts, spinach, chocolate, sweet potatoes, and rhubarb.
Some recent studies have shown that eating foods that contain calcium along with foods that contain oxalate allows them to bind in your intestine instead of in your urine, reducing the risk of kidney stones.
Purine is a natural chemical compound that is found in high concentrations in meat, seafood, and other protein rich foods. Purines breakdown to form uric acid. High levels of uric acid will give you an increased risk of developing uric acid kidney stones.
If you tend to form uric acid stones a diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains is recommended.
Avoid High Purine Foods
For kidney stone prevention you should limit your intake of high-purine foods such as seafood, chicken, and fish. Organ meats such as sweetbreads and liver also contain high levels of Purines.
Reducing or eliminating certain minerals from your urine can be difficult or even impossible for some people. It all depends on your metabolism.
However, the one thing that we
can all do is drink more water.
Most doctors recommend 3 quarts of water per day to keep your urine very diluted and the mineral concentration very low. This is a very effective way of reducing your risk of kidney stones.
Monitor the Color of Your Urine
When you are drinking enough water your urine will have a pale yellow appearance.
Kidney Stones in Your Kidney and Ureter
Image thanks to Bruce Blaus, via Wikimedia Commons
If it is dark yellow or orange you are already dehydrated and at risk for forming kidney stones.
For maximum kidney stone prevention you cannot wait until you are thirsty to begin drinking. Thirst is a late indicator and by the time you feel thirsty there is already a risk of kidney stones.
Lemons and limes have a higher levels of natural citrate which studies have shown to help prevent kidney stones.
Drinking lemonade also helps kidney stone prevention by increasing your fluid intake.
1) Strain your urine and collect a stone for your doctor to analyze.
2) Talk to your doctor or a registered dietician to develop a diet to help prevent your type of stone.
3) Drink more water and lemonade