How to avoid developing kidney stones
Avoid developing kidney stones. People develop kidney stones when certain minerals, salts and chemicals in their urine, such as calcium and uric acid, become concentrated enough to form crystals. Following a few simple tips can help to prevent this.
Drink plenty of water
Drinking lots of water dilutes the concentration of stone-forming substances in urine. According to the National Health Service of the United Kingdom, the ideal amount is 2.5 litres to 3 litres, or about 12 cups, of water per day. Adding lemon slices or lemon juice to the water helps too, as the citrate in the fruit blocks the formation of kidney stones.
Go easy on the salt and animal protein
A salt-heavy diet can lead to kidney stones because salt increases the amount of calcium in urine. Doctors recommend having less than five grams, or one teaspoon, of salt per day. Cutting back on salt is good for the body in other ways too, as it lowers blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular diseases, strokes and heart attacks.
Eating too much animal protein such as beef, chicken, eggs and seafood, on the other hand, heightens the risk of kidney stones by boosting the level of uric acid in urine and reducing the amount of citrate in urine. A good rule of thumb is to limit daily consumption of meat to a portion that is smaller than a pack of playing cards. This is also healthy for the heart.
Eat more calcium-rich foods
Although having more calcium in urine increases the likelihood of kidney stones, eating more calcium-rich food has the opposite effect, says the National Kidney Foundation. Calcium in food binds to oxalate, a stone-forming substance found in many foods, in the intestines and lowers the amount of oxalate that reaches the kidneys and thus makes its way into urine. Calcium-rich foods include broccoli, yoghurt and sardines.
Avoid high-dose vitamin C supplements
Vitamin C is important in making and repairing tissue, skin and bones, and helping the body to absorb iron, but too much of it can raise the risk of developing kidney stones. Adult men and women need just 90 milligrams and 75 milligrams of vitamin C each day, on average, and should not have more than 2,000 milligrams of vitamin C each day.
This article has been verified medically by Dr Chong Kian Tai, consultant urologist of Surgi-TEN Specialists at Farrer Park Hospital (Singapore).