Kidney Stones - what are they? And how can i protect against them

Kidney stones often occur when urine becomes too concentrated. This causes minerals and other substances in your urine to form crystals on the inner surfaces of your kidneys. Over time these crystals may combine to form a small, hard mass, which can break off and passes into the ureter.

The body contains a natural inhibitor of kidney stones called citrate. Many people have a lack of citrate in their urine and this may be partially or mainly responsible for kidney stone formation.

Not all kidney stones cause symptoms. In fact, it's not unusual for stones to be discovered in the kidneys during X-rays for an unrelated problem. Symptoms may be blood in your urine, recurring urinary tract infections, or a vague pain or ache in your side — all common symptoms of kidney stones. It's only when a stone breaks loose and begins to work its way down the ureter that the pain becomes agonizing.

Most small kidney stones pass into your bladder without causing any permanent damage. It's important to determine and treat the underlying cause so that you don't form more stones in the future. Fortunately, you may be able to prevent kidney stones simply by increasing the amount of water you drink and making a few dietary changes.

Types of Kidney Stones

  • Calcium stone - Calcium that is not used by the bones and muscles goes to the kidneys. In most people, the kidneys flush out the extra calcium with the rest of the urine. People who have calcium stones keep the calcium in their kidneys. The calcium that stays behind joins with other waste products to form a stone.
  • A struvite stone may form after an infection in the urinary system. These stones contain the mineral magnesium and the waste product ammonia.
  • A uric acid stone may form when there is too much acid in the urine, which is a by product of protein metabolism.  If you tend to form uric acid stones, cutting back on the amount of meat you eat is beneficial.

Dietary Approaches

Diet low in salt and very low in animal protein can greatly reduce your chance of developing kidney stones. Also decreasing oxalate rich foods such as Beets, Chocolate, Coffee, Cola, Nuts, Spinach, Strawberries, Tea, Wheat bran.
Nutrition

  • Eat plenty of leafy green vegetables, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fish and poultry in small portions. Include foods that have a high ratio of magnesium to calcium such as brown rice, bananas, oats, barley, and soy, and are high in fiber such as oat bran, psyllium seed husk, and flaxseed meal.
  • Drink about 1-2 litres of water daily. Proper hydration prevents the urine from becoming concentrated with crystals, which leads to stone formation; and it reduces the risk of urinary tract infections.
  • Avoid sugar (check ingredients for hidden sources of sugar), alcohol, antacids, excessive protein, dairy products (especially milk), salt, carbonated beverages, caffeine, and refined white flour products such as pasta, white bread, and baked goods.

 

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