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How to Prevent Kidney Stones

Men's Health, Pain, Women's Health | February 9, 2017 | Author: Naturopath


How to Prevent Kidney Stones

Sudden, intense pain is the hallmark of a kidney stone. It’s the kind of pain you wouldn’t wish upon your worst enemy and can leave you unable to go about your daily activities. Kidney stones are the most common complaint of the urinary system, with one in ten people experiencing a kidney stone at some point in their life. Preventing the formation of stones is the key and can be achieved by simple dietary and lifestyle changes.

What are they?

Kidney stones are hard, rock-like crystals that develop inside the kidneys from substances that are naturally always present in the body. The kidney’s try to filter these waste materials from the body, but sometimes they can clump together to form stones.

The stones can vary in shape and size, from as small as a grain of salt to the size of a golf ball. They can block the flow of urine, leading to severe pain, infection and inflammation.

The four main types of kidney stones

  • Calcium oxalate, carbonate or phosphate stone: These are the most common forms
  • Struvite stone: A large, horn-shaped stone that is usually caused by an infection
  • Uric acid stone: Soft stone caused by uric acid accumulating in the kidneys
  • Cystine stone: This type is rare and is usually hereditary

Symptoms of kidney stones

Stones, especially small ones may not cause any symptoms at all.

Symptoms can also vary depending on the location of the stone. Stones in the bladder can cause pain in the lower abdomen, while stones in the ureter or any of the draining tubes can cause excruciating, intermittent pain across the lower abdomen and back, into the genital area and inner thigh.

Other symptoms include:

  • Cloudy, bloody or foul smelling urine
  • Discoloured urine, particularly pink and brown
  • Persistent urge to urinate, sometimes with little urine coming out
  • Nausea, vomiting and abdominal distention
  • Fever with chills, a sign that there is an infection

What to do if you have these symptoms

While some kidney stones won’t cause any permanent damage, and can pass on their own, some can. If you suspect you’re experiencing symptoms of kidney stones it is best you discuss your concerns with your G.P. However, if you’re experiencing intense pain, with any of the above symptoms it is considered a very serious condition and may require emergency surgery. Unresolved kidney stones can develop into kidney damage and require immediate attention.

Risk factors

Who’s most at risk of kidney stones? Studies have shown people most likely to suffer from kidney stones include:

  • Men: Unfortunately, males are more likely to suffer from kidney stones for reasons that aren’t entirely understood
  • Middle-age: People between the ages of 30-50 years
  • Diuretics: People taking this medication are more susceptible as it can lead to dehydration
  • Inactive: A sedentary lifestyle increases your risk
  • Diseases: Hyperthyroidism, chronic urinary tract infections, gout, inflammatory bowel disease and hypertension
  • Renal tube defects
  • High-protein diet
  • Excessive intake of calcium, oxalates or purines in predisposed individuals
  • High-phosphorus diet, including soft drinks
  • Inadequate fluid intake
  • Bone loss and elevated urinary calcium excretion
  • Genetics

Dietary and lifestyle suggestions

The following guidelines will assist in the prevention of kidney stones

Keep hydrated

Aim to drink 2-3 litres of filtered water daily to flush the kidneys of small stones and waste products.

Try herbal teas and lemon or apple cider vinegar in water. Aim for clear coloured urine.

DASH diet

DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet is a lifelong approach to healthy eating that was designed to help treat or prevent high blood pressure (hypertension), but is also associated with a marked decrease in stone formation.

The DASH style diet is high in fruits and vegetables, with moderate amounts of low-fat dairy and low in animal proteins and salt. Reduce your intake of sugar, refined foods, caffeine, alcohol and soft drinks.
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Eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables can help to alkalise the body and prevent it from becoming too acidic.

Get your body moving every day as a sedentary lifestyle has been shown to increase your risk of kidney stones. Try adding exercise into your daily routine such as taking the stairs, go for a walk or use the rake or broom instead of the blower in the garden.

If prone to calcium oxalate stones

Avoid foods high in oxalates. While they are ok to eat in small amounts, eating excessive amounts if you are predisposed to this kind of kidney stone is not recommended. Foods high in oxalates include kale, spinach, green-leafy vegetables, silver beet, rhubarb, okra, peanuts, cashews, almonds, tea, soy, wheat bran and cocoa powder.

Eating foods high in calcium can help to bind with oxalates in the intestines and prevent their absorption

If you are eating a meal with moderate to high amounts of oxalates, consider eating with some salmon, natural yoghurt or broccoli to reduce oxalate build-up in the kidneys.

Limit intake of sodium (table salt) and be aware of foods that have salt added to them i.e. stock, bread, chips.

An increase in salt in the diet, increases the excretion of calcium from the kidneys, increasing the risk of stone formation.

Increase magnesium in the diet by including other nuts, seeds, fish, beans, whole grains, avocados, yogurt and bananas. If you feel that your diet is low in this nutrient consider supplementing with a bisglycinate, citrate or amino acid form for enhanced absorption. Magnesium helps to increase the solubility of calcium in the urine, helping to prevent the formation of calcium stones.

Vitamin B6 deficiency can lead to elevated levels of oxalates in the urine. Supplementation with this vitamin inhibits the production of oxalate in the body and can reduce stone formation even if one is not deficient in this nutrient. 

Inositol hexaphosphate (IP6) is a chemical found in high-fibre foods such as beans, brown rice, corn, and sesame seeds. It has been shown to reduce the frequency of calcium based stones.

If associated with gout

If the stones are caused by uric acid or linked to gout, avoid foods high in purines. These include shellfish, offal foods, red meat, yeast extracts, bread, beer and oily fish such as sardines, herrings and anchovies. Potassium citrate may also be helpful to elevate the PH of the urine, making it more alkaline.
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To conclude…

Kidney stones are conditions best avoided as they can leave you in a great deal of pain. If left untreated they can cause kidney damage but most small stones just pass on their own. Incorporating simple dietary changes, exercise and drinking 2-3 litres of water can help prevent their formation.  Australia’s best online discount chemist


Prezioso D, et al. Dietary treatment of urinary risk factors for renal stone formation. A review of CLU Working Group. Arch Ital Urol Androl. 2015 Jul 7;87(2):105-20

Trinchieri A, et al. Diet and renal stone formation. Minerva Med. 2013 Feb;104(1):41-54

Buades Fuster JM, et al. Plant phosphates, phytate and pathological calcifications in chronic kidney disease. Nefrologia. 2016 Sep 30. Pii: S0211-6995(16)30115-1

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