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How To Prevent Kidney Stones In 4 Steps
Kidney stones can be one of the most agonizing health problems anyone can experience. They are often difficult to detect before symptoms begin, and many times there is no option but to pass them through urination, which can be painful. While kidney stones are certainly a treatable condition, the old saying still holds true: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure (maybe more than a few pounds, in this case). Today we’ll discuss what causes kidney stones to form, and offer some practical steps you can take to prevent them from forming in the first place.
Understanding Kidney Stones.
Kidney stones are formed by certain compounds that have crystalizing properties, such as oxalate, uric acid, and calcium. Of these three types, calcium stones are the most common. While there is rarely one single cause of a case of kidney stones there are certain risk factors that are both genetic and behavior.
Let’s start with the behavioral factors first. One important factor is your diet. A person who eats a diet that is very high in sodium, protein, and sugar will have a higher risk of developing kidney stones. High sodium intake is also linked to dehydration which is another risk factor. Failing to stay adequately hydrated is linked to all kinds of health issues, so it is important to drink plenty of water and be mindful of the amount of sodium you are taking in. Obesity is also a contributing factor to a higher risk of developing kidney stones.
Certain medical conditions and diseases can also affect the body in such a way that makes kidney stones more likely to form. Inflammatory bowel disease, hyperparathyroidism, renal tubular acidosis and cysturnia are examples of conditions that can increase the chances of developing kidney stones. Certain medications and surgical procedures, such as gastric bypass surgery, can also make stones more likely to occur.
Finally, there is genetics. As with many other diseases, a family history of kidney stones is an indication that a person is more likely to develop them at some point in their life.
It is worth noting that generally speaking, men have a higher risk of developing kidney stones than women.
How to Prevent Kidney Stones.
Step 1: Drink plenty of water.
This is the easiest and most practical step you can take. Your kidneys have to work harder when your body is dehydrated, and under such conditions, they are a more ideal environment for stone-forming crystallization to take place. If you are peeing frequently and the urine is more clear than yellow, that is a good sign. Infrequent urination which is dark yellow is the tell-tale sign of dehydrated kidneys. Start drinking more water right away if your urine looks like this. If you are athletic or sweat a lot, you will need to drink more water than someone who isn’t. According to Healthline, drinking citrus juices can also help because they contain citrate, which can help prevent stones from forming, but water should always be the first option.
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Step 2: Eat less protein.
Consuming a diet that is very high in animal protein will increase your risk. While foods like beef, pork, and poultry are certainly healthy and packed with macronutrients, anything in excess can become unhealthy and kidney stones just happens to be one of the ways in which this is true with meat. Make sure you eat animal protein in reasonable quantities and as part of a balanced diet.
Step 3: Avoid vitamin C supplementation.
According to a 2013 study published on the JAMA Internal Medicine website, taking ascorbic acid supplements (vitamin C as it is commonly known) can double the risk of developing kidney stones in men. While taking vitamin C supplements can be beneficial for boosting your immune system, it is probably not a good idea to do so indefinitely. It is better to get the vitamin C you need from eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. There is no increased risk of developing stones from a diet rich in these foods.
Step 4: Eat less sodium.
This is one of the most important steps you can take. The less sodium you eat, the lower your risk of developing kidney stones. Foods that are high in sodium include processed foods and snack foods like crackers, chips, and various snack foods, as well as deli meats, condiments, canned vegetables, and soups. Develop a habit of looking at ingredients and nutrition facts labels on foods in the store. Make note of how many grams of sodium they contain, and look in the ingredient list for sodium nitrate and monosodium glutamate.
You may not be able to do anything about a family history of kidney stones, but taking these four external, behavioral steps can significantly decrease your likelihood of experiencing this painful condition.