May 18, 2020

What Helps Prevent Kidney Stones?

how to prevent kidney stones

Kidney stones are hard collections of calcium or uric acid that form inside the kidneys. When they pass through the urinary tract, they can cause excruciating pain. About one in eleven people develop kidney stones, which are more prevalent in men, people who are obese and diabetics. If you have a family history of kidney stones, you have a higher chance of getting them.

Nine Ways to Prevent Kidney Stones

There are things you can do, both naturally through lifestyle changes and with medication, to help prevent the likelihood of getting kidney stones.

Drink More Water

Staying properly hydrated is one of the best ways to prevent kidney stones. When you don’t drink enough water, your urine output goes down and your urine becomes more concentrated, which makes it harder to dissolve the salts that turn into kidney stones.

It’s recommended that you drink roughly eight glasses of water a day to stay hydrated. Other fluids like lemonade or orange juice are also helpful in reducing stones because they contain citrate, which can help stop them from forming.

Eat More Calcium-Rich Foods

If you’re eating foods that are low in calcium because you’re trying to avoid the most common form of stones (calcium oxalate stones), you actually raise your risk of getting stones.

Also, be careful when taking calcium supplements, which can actually increase your chances of getting stones. If you do take calcium supplements, make sure to take them with meals, which reduces the risk of stones.

Foods that are good sources of calcium include low-fat yogurt, low-fat milk and low-fat cheese.

Reduce Your Sodium Intake

A diet that’s high in sodium will increase your chances of developing calcium stones. When there’s too much salt in your urine, calcium is prevented from being reabsorbed into the blood from urine. When there’s more calcium in your urine, you’re at risk of getting stones.

Always make sure to read the nutrition labels on the food you eat. Foods that are high in sodium include:

  • Processed foods, such as chips and crackers
  • Canned soups
  • Lunch meats, bacon and sausage
  • Processed cheese
  • Pizza (frozen and fresh)
  • Foods that contain monosodium glutamate
  • Condiments
  • Foods that contain sodium nitrate
  • Foods that contain baking soda

Eat Less Oxalate-Rich Foods

Oxalate is a natural compound found in some foods that binds with calcium in the urine to form oxalate kidney stones. Cutting back on foods that contain oxalate can help prevent kidney stones from forming. Foods that are high in oxalate include:

  • Spinach
  • Chocolate
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Coffee
  • Beets
  • Peanuts
  • Rhubarb
  • Soy products
  • Wheat bran

Limit Animal Protein

Limiting or giving up foods high in animal protein, which are acidic and can increase urine acid, can help reduce your chances of developing stones. These are the foods you should try to avoid:

  • Beef
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Pork

Avoid Vitamin C Supplements

Vitamin C that comes in food doesn’t increase the chances of developing stones, but vitamin C supplements can cause stones, especially in men.

Look Into Herbal Remedies

Herbal remedies, such as Chanca Piedra, have long been thought to help prevent the formation of calcium-oxalate stones. Use caution when exploring herbal remedies because they aren’t well-regulated or researched for the prevention of kidney stones.

Talk to Your Doctor About Medications You’re Currently Taking

Certain prescriptions and over-the-counter medications have been known to cause kidney stones. Over time, these medications can increase your chances of developing stones. If you’re taking any of these medications, make sure to talk with your doctor before discontinuing use. These medications include:

  • Decongestants
  • Diuretics
  • Protease inhibitors
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Steroids
  • Chemotherapy drugs
  • Uricosuric drugs

Talk to Your Doctor About Preventative Medications

If you have a family history of kidney stones or have had them in the past, there are medications that can help reduce the amount of these materials in your urine. Depending of the types of stones you develop, these medications can be helpful:

  • For calcium stones, a thiazide diuretic or phosphate can help.
  • Fort uric acid stones, allopurinol can help reduce uric acid in your blood and urine.
  • For struvite stones, long-term antibiotics can help reduce the amount of bacteria in your urine.
  • For cystine stones, capoten can help reduce the cystine levels present in your urine.

Learn More About Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are common and, while the preventative methods described can be helpful, there’s no guarantee that they’ll stop them from forming. The best way to help keep them from forming is staying hydrated and making dietary changes.

Looking for more information?

Explore the symptoms and causes of kidney stones from Baptist Health.

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