Kidney stones are a widespread health problem that affects around 12% of people worldwide. 600,000 people in the US deal with this condition every year. Anyone can suffer from kidney stones, but men between the ages of 20 and 49 are likeliest to be affected.
Though it’s possible to treat kidney stones, they always cause a great deal of pain and discomfort. Unfortunately, reoccurrence is common. If you had kidney stones once, you’re 75% likelier to develop them again within the next twenty years. All this considered, learning how to prevent kidney stones should be a priority for everyone.
What Causes Kidney Stones?
There are various reasons why a person may develop this condition. Kidney stones are crystals that form when the percentage of certain materials in the urine is too high. They can also form when the urine lacks the substances that prevent these crystals from forming.
Your genetics have an impact on how likely you are to form kidney stones. People with gout or digestive diseases are at a higher than average risk, and gastric bypass surgery is a risk factor as well.
Your diet and habits have a major influence on your chances of developing kidney stones. There is a great deal you can do lower this risk.
How to Prevent Kidney Stones with Lifestyle Changes?
1. Stay Hydrated at All Times
This is the most effective preventive measure at your disposal.
Dehydration causes kidney stones because it alters the composition of your urine. If you don’t drink enough liquids, the density of your urine grows. This makes it likelier for minerals to clump together and form kidney stones.
How much water do you need to consume to avoid this?
People who are at a very high risk are advised to drink up to 12 glasses a day. While other fluids are useful too, you should make sure that at least half of your fluid intake is pure water.
2. Salt vs. Calcium – Be Careful What You Eat
In many cases, kidney stones form because there is too much calcium in the affected person’s urine. Hence, many people assume that it’s not safe to eat calcium-rich foods when you know you’re at risk of this condition.
But the truth is that calcium is good for the body, and eating high-calcium foods doesn’t make you likelier to suffer from kidney stones. In fact, having low calcium levels actually makes you likelier to develop this condition.
The only way that calcium can be dangerous for your kidneys is if you overuse calcium supplements. The amount of calcium you get out of a healthy diet can’t cause any difficulties. Eating dairy products, salmon, and leafy greens is a good choice for at-risk people.
The real risk factor you should worry about is salt (sodium). Consuming salty food easily leads to dehydration, and it also has a negative impact on your calcium levels. Sodium makes it more difficult for your body to absorb calcium, which leads to a pile-up in the kidneys.
3. Use Saunas, But Don’t Overdo It
Sweating has a great number of health benefits. It detoxifies your body, clears the skin, and provides you with an endorphin boost. You can also prevent colds by using saunas or working out to the point of sweating.
Doctors say that sweating is also a good way to prevent kidney stones. It lowers the amount of salt accumulating in your system and doesn’t have a negative impact on your calcium levels.
Too much sweating can endanger your kidney health because it can lead to dehydration. So if you decide on doing intense workouts, make sure there’s enough water at hand at all times.
4. Keep Your Weight Under Control
Obese people, especially women, are at a high risk of developing kidney stones.
The main reason for this connection is uric acid. Too much uric acid leads to crystals forming in the kidneys. This is a problem that’s frequently present in people whose body weight is over 100 kg (about 220 lbs). Additionally, weight can also impact the absorption rate of calcium in the body.
Losing weight is a crucial preventive measure. Additionally, maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regimen decreases your chances of developing diabetes. Having type 2 diabetes is another risk factor, as it increases your urine acid levels.
5. Eat Oxalate-Rich Foods in Moderation
Oxalate is a natural compound with a strong binding ability. Most kidney stones consist of calcium oxalate. Decreasing your oxalate intake is a simple and easy way to avoid this health issue.
This means that it’s best to avoid coffee, chocolate, spinach, beets, rhubarb, peanuts, and other oxalate-rich foods. However, it’s not necessary to remove them from your diet entirely. If you normally eat well-balanced meals, your oxalate levels are unlikely to get too high.
6. Decrease Your Animal Protein Intake
The protein you get from eggs, poultry, seafood, and red meat can have a negative effect on your kidney health. It increases the amount of uric acid in your blood, and also increases the levels of calcium oxalate in your urine. Experts advise eating protein portions that are no bigger than a deck of cards. You can also introduce some plant-based proteins into your diet.
7. Consider the Downside of Vitamin C Supplements
Various prescription drugs can cause kidney stones. People who have to take medication daily should consult with their primary care provider about any potential risks to their kidney health.
Over-the-counter supplements can cause difficulties, too. In particular, taking vitamin C supplements increases your chances of developing kidney stones. A 2013 study showed that men who took vitamin C supplements daily were twice as likely to suffer from this affliction. But again, the amount of vitamin C that you get from a balanced diet shouldn’t endanger you in any way.
If you have a family history of kidney stones, it’s important to be vigilant and find out how to prevent kidney stones. The same is true for overweight people, people with digestive issues, and so on. But this information is important even if you don’t belong to an at-risk group.
The main takeaway is that dehydration and a bad diet can increase your likelihood of developing this condition. Some easy adjustments in your everyday routine could thus help you avoid a host of problems.