Kidneys are a fundamental part of the human body. The two bean-shaped organs that weigh roughly 10cm (4 inches) in length are located towards the back of the abdomen on either side of the spine.
Their function is to remove waste products from the blood before the clean blood is transferred back into the body. The waste products are then passed out of the body when you pee.
Kidney stones refer to the hard mineral deposits that form inside your kidneys, causing excruciating pain when they pass through your urinary tract. If you have had one kidney stone, you will likely get another within the next ten years.
Although there are many ways to prevent kidney stones, you might likely have one if you have a family history of the condition.
But taking a good note of your diet and lifestyle, as well as some medications, may help reduce your risk. These are the most important steps you must take.
Generally, below are some of the ways to prevent kidney stones.
1. Always stay hydrated
Ensure you drink more water which helps you stay hydrated at all times. This is the best way to prevent kidney stones. Failure to drink enough water will lead to low urine output. Such a situation means your urine is more concentrated and less likely to dissolve urine salts that cause stones.
To avoid this, endeavour to take around eight glasses of fluids daily, or enough to pass two litres of urine. However, you will need additional fluid if you exercise or sweat a lot, or have a history of cystine stones.
Other options you must follow are lemonade and orange juice because they contain citrate, which helps prevent stones from forming.
The colour of your urine is the easiest symptom that helps you discover if you are dehydrated. If it is a clear or pale yellow, it’s normal, but you need to drink more if it’s dark.
2. Go for more calcium-rich foods
Calcium oxalate stone is the most common type of kidney stone. This has led many people to believe they should avoid eating calcium. However, that’s is not true. If you are low on calcium diets, there is an increase in your kidney stone risk and osteoporosis.
However, you need to take the calcium supplements with a meal to help reduce that risk, as taking it alone could lead to otherwise.
3. Avoid taking some over-the-counter drugs
Some over-the-counter drugs or prescription can lead to kidney stones. These medications includes antacids, certain, decongestants, diuretics, antibiotics (ciprofloxacin and sulfa antibiotics), steroids and certain medicines for cancer, HIV (acyclovir), and epilepsy.
4. Take less sodium-rich foods
Consuming a high-salt diet increases your risk of calcium kidney stones. The Urology Care Foundation says too much salt in the urine prevents calcium from being reabsorbed from the urine to the blood, which may lead to high urine calcium, resulting in kidney stones.
So, eat less salt to keep your urine calcium levels low. With low urine calcium, you have a lower risk of developing kidney stones. You should avoid foods with monosodium glutamate (MSG), canned foods, processed foods, and foods that contain sodium nitrate.
5. Take less of oxalate-rich foods
Since some kidney stones have oxalate – a natural compound found in foods that bind with calcium in the urine to form kidney stones, it is therefore advised you consume a limited amount of oxalate-rich foods to prevent the stones from forming.
So, take foods high in oxalates like spinach, chocolate, sweet potatoes, coffee, beets, peanuts, rhubarb, soy products, wheat bran, e.t.c.
Oxalate and calcium bind together in the digestive tract before reaching the kidneys, so it’s harder for stones to form if you eat high-oxalate foods and calcium-rich foods simultaneously.
6. Reduce your intake of purine-rich foods
Another compound that has been said to kidney stones is purine. Purine is a natural chemical compound that is present in high concentration in fed meat, organ meats, and shellfish. High intake of purine-rich foods leads to a higher production of uric acid and produces a larger acid load for the kidneys to excrete
Eat less of foods high in animal protein. This is because they are acidic and may increase uric acid. High uric acid is likely to lead to both uric acid and calcium oxalate kidney stones.
7. Say no to vitamin C supplements
By avoiding Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) supplementation, especially if you are a man, you are likely to prevent kidney stones.
A 2013 study revealed that men who took high doses of vitamin C supplements doubled their risk of forming a kidney stone.
Remember to consult with your doctor regularly. Talking to your doctor for advice can also help you avoid having kidney stones. He is likely to give you the medications you need to avoid, especially if you have a family history of it.