Kidney stones are hard, mineral-based deposits that form inside the kidneys over time. It is estimated that one in ten people will have a kidney stone at some time in their lives. They form when your urine contains more crystal-forming substances, such as calcium, oxalate, and uric acid, than the fluid in your urine can dilute. While these stones may start small and not cause any issues at first, some can grow larger in size, causing immense pain.
While there is no guaranteed way to prevent kidney stones, especially if you have a family history of them, there are lifestyle changes that may help reduce your risk. Here are a few ways you can prevent kidney stones naturally:
Drink Plenty of Water
The best prevention for stones and the best treatment for small stones is staying hydrated. When you do not drink enough water, your urine is more concentrated and less likely to dissolve urine salts that cause the stones to develop. You should strive to drink at least 64 ounces of water a day, which is roughly eight standard 8-ounce cups.
Reduce Your Sodium Intake
Consuming a high sodium diet can cause kidney stones because it can increase the amount of calcium in your urine. Most Americans consume an average of 3,400 mg of sodium per day. However, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day.
Follow these tips from the FDA to reduce the amount of sodium you consume:
- Read the nutrition facts label
- Prepare your own food when you can
- Buy fresh food rather than processed varieties
- Make sure your vegetables are low sodium or no-salt-added canned vegetables
- Choose unsalted snacks
- Reduce your portion size
Limit Animal Protein
Studies have found that consuming too much animal protein is associated with increased serum and urine uric acid in healthy individuals. Patients with a history of stones should restrict the amount of protein in their diets by not exceeding more than 80 grams of animal protein per day.
Limit Foods With High Oxalate Content
Oxalate is a compound found in some foods, and eating foods with high oxalate content can produce kidney stones, as the extra oxalate “sticks” to calcium in the kidneys. Some foods high in oxalate include:
- Dark green vegetables
- Soy milk
- Sweet potatoes
By drinking plenty of water and making certain dietary changes, you may be able to reduce your risk of kidney stones. If you have a condition that increases your risk of kidney stones, it is best to talk to your doctor about ways you can decrease your kidney stone risk.
At The Kidney and Hypertension Center, we provide consultation and ongoing care for the prevention and treatment of kidney-related diseases. Schedule your appointment today!