Research shows that approximately one in 11 people will experience kidney stones at some point during their lives. If you have already had a kidney stone, you are 50 percent more likely to experience another one at some point.
What is a Kidney Stone?
A kidney stone is a calcified mass of minerals that has collected in the body and is lodged in the urinary tract. If you see a kidney stone under a microscope, it is easy to see why such a small mass can be so painful. The hardened mass usually has several sharp, pointed edges, which makes it very uncomfortable to pass through the urinary tract. Make a few changes in your diet and lifestyle as noted in the risk factor list below and you may be able to avoid the unpleasant possibility of a kidney stone.
1.) Lack of Calcium in Diet
Conventional wisdom might assume that if kidney stones are composed of calcium and minerals, increasing calcium in your diet would be the last thing you would want to do. However, lack of calcium in the diet can contribute to the formation of kidney stones. If you do not get enough calcium, the oxalates in your body that normally attach to calcium in the digestive tract attach instead to calcium in the urinary tract and form stones.
2.) Too Much Salad
Too much salad in your diet can also cause kidney stones. Spinach and other salad greens are high in oxalates, which may cause stones to form in the urinary tract. Substitute spinach and lettuce for a lower-oxalate option, such as kale.
3.) Processed Salt
Increased intake of processed salt can be a cause of kidney stones. Reduce your daily intake of salt to 2,300 mg per day. If you have high blood pressure, cap your daily salt intake at 1,500 mg.
4.) Lack of Citrus
A lack of citrus fruits in your diet can contribute to the formation of kidney stones. Citrus fruits contain a substance known as citrate, which can lower the risk for stones. Add a few citrus fruits to your daily diet to minimize risk.
5.) Too Much Red Meat and Poultry
If you are eating a lot of meat each day, you may be crowding out other food groups, such as fruits and vegetables. Substitute fish for meat or poultry a few times per week to reduce your risk for kidney stone formation.
How Do Kidney Stones Form? How Can We Prevent Them?
6.) Iced Tea Overload
Iced tea made from black pekoe tea leaves, such as Lipton, are high in oxalates and can contribute to kidney stone formation. Limit your intake of iced tea to 8 ounces or less per day. If you have high levels of oxalates in your system, you may need to cut iced tea completely out of your diet.
7.) Drinking Too Much Soda
Carbonated soda contributes to the formation of kidney stones. Even one sugary soda per day can increase your kidney stone risk. Opt for healthier beverages like water.
8.) Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD)
People with IBD tend to lose hydration through diarrhea. Dehydration contributes to kidney stone formation so if you have IBD, stay hydrated by drinking lots of water throughout the day.
9.) Too Many Laxatives
Reduce the amount of laxatives you use and you will reduce the risk of kidney stones.
10.) Topomax for Migraines
Topomax contains topiramate, which increases risk for stones. Ask your doctor if you can switch to a migraine medication that does not increase the pH levels in the urinary tract.
11.) Your Body Weight
Obesity can contribute to kidney stone formation. Doctors believe that extra poundage changes the pH levels of the urinary track, allowing stone-forming uric acid to build up.
12.) Bariatric Surgery
If you have recently had bariatric surgery, consult with your doctor about ways to minimize risk.
Though you cannot do anything about your genetic makeup, you can make dietary and lifestyle changes that will reduce your risk.
Those who have been afflicted with kidney stones often wonder how something so small can be so painful to pass. The key is to avoid developing a kidney stone altogether by addressing certain risk factors that you may exhibit in your diet and lifestyle. You can do this by altering a few behaviors that contribute to the development of kidney stones, eating the right foods and keeping your weight in check.