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Kidney Stone Causes and 5 Easy Ways to Prevent Them

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If you’ve ever had a kidney stone, you know just how painful it is. If you haven’t, you should know it’s estimated that one out of every ten people will have a kidney stone at some point in their life.

And the pain produced by kidney stones is excruciating — it sends more than a million people to the emergency room every year.

In the majority of cases, these people are never admitted to the hospital. Instead, they’re given a medication that relaxes the muscles in the ureter to help the kidney stone pass. Then they’re sent home with instructions to drink two to three quarts of water a day, take a painkiller as necessary and “wait for it to pass.”

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With this in mind, your best bet is to do everything you can to avoid kidney stones in the first place.

By steering clear of kidney stones, you’ll not only save yourself from the emergency room fees, but you’ll also avoid the pain and anguish of the days and weeks it takes to rid yourself of those painful little stones. (Or worse, endure surgery if the stone becomes too large to pass.)

What Causes Kidney Stones in the First Place?

Calcium oxalate stones are the most common form of kidney stones. These occur when you eat too many oxalate foods and don’t consume enough liquid. As the oxalate builds up, it begins sticking to calcium. And this is what forms the crystallized stones.

Diets high in protein, salt and sugar are particularly problematic. Too much salt, in particular, increases the amount of calcium your kidneys have to filter. This is problematic since oxalate attaches itself to calcium in the kidneys. (It’s also important to note that salt is dehydrating.)

Not drinking enough water plays a significant role in the formation of stones.  People should drink plenty of water to help prevent crystals from forming, or to help break them up if they’ve already crystallized.

Excess intake of high oxalate foods like nuts, beets, seeds and spinach also adds to the risk of kidney stones.

5 Easy Ways to Prevent Kidney Stones

Here are five simple ways to help offset your risk of developing kidney stones, naturally:

1. Limit Your Salt Intake

High sodium intake causes excess calcium to build up in your urine. Foods like deli meats, hot dogs, canned foods and those that come in packages are typically very high in sodium.

2. Drink Plenty of Fluids

The higher your fluid intake, the easier it is to flush out chemicals associated with the formation of kidney stones. Skip the sugary beverages and sodas, as they add to kidney stone risk.

3. Eat Fewer Oxalate Foods

You don’t need to discontinue them altogether, since many of these foods contain balanced health benefits. The Cleveland Clinic suggests cutting only the following oxalate foods:

  • Spinach
  • Bran flakes
  • Rhubarb
  • Beets
  • Potato chips
  • French fries
  • Nuts and nut butters

4. Don’t Eat Too Much Animal Protein

Small amounts are fine, but a diet high in animal protein can encourage the development of kidney stones. Choose plant-based proteins like chia seeds, beans, lentil or chickpeas when possible.

5. Get More Calcium in Your Diet

This may sound counterintuitive, but it’s sound advice. When you eat calcium at the same time you eat high oxalate foods, they bind together in the stomach and intestines before moving to the kidneys. This makes eating calcium and oxalate together a great way to get oxalate out of the body without the risk of stone formation.

Learn everything calcium can do for your health in our article A Calcium Breakdown: From the Best Forms to What Else it Does For Your Health.

Sources:

Foster G, et al. Emergency Department Visits and Hospital Admissions for Kidney Stone Disease, 2009: Statistical Brief #139. Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) Statistical Briefs [Internet]. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); 2006-.2012 Jul.

Ferraro PM, et al. Soda and other beverages and the risk of kidney stones. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2013 Aug;8(8):1389-95.

Kidney Stones: Oxalate-Controlled Diet. News Article. Cleveland Clinic. © 2017 Cleveland Clinic.

Moyad MA. Calcium oxalate kidney stones: another reason to encourage moderate calcium intakes and other dietary changes. Urol Nurs. 2003 Aug;23(4):310-3.


Dana Nicholas is a freelance writer and researcher in the field of natural and alternative healing. She has over 20 years of experience working with many noted health authors and anti-aging professionals, including James Balch, M.D., Dr. Linda Page, “Amazon” John Easterling and Al Sears M.D. Dana’s goal is to keep you up-to-date on information, news and breakthroughs that can have a direct impact on your health, your quality of life… and your lifespan. “I’m absolutely convinced that America’s misguided trust in mainstream medicine – including reliance on the government to regulate our food and medicine supply – is killing us, slowly but surely,” she cautions. “By sharing what I’ve learned throughout the years I hope I can empower others to take control over their own health.”


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