Kidney stones—those little mineral formations that can form in your kidneys—are unpleasant and painful to say the least. If you’ve had a kidney stone, you know you don’t want to have another one. You can help prevent kidney stones through healthy living practices. Check out these four ways to prevent kidney stones.
1. Eat a Healthy Diet
Eating a healthy diet is crucial for all aspects of our health, not just kidney stones. Eating a healthy diet with whole foods will also help you maintain a normal weight, which is important for preventing kidney stones as well. Studies show that people who struggle with obesity are more likely to get kidney stones at some point in their life. Eating a healthy diet involves getting plenty of dark green leafy vegetables, plant-based protein from legumes and nuts, and getting healthy fats from oils and seeds. Cut down on your salt intake as part of your healthy diet as well—salt can increase calcium in your urine, and can make you more susceptible to have kidney stones. To get the full benefits of a healthy diet, reduce your added sugar intake as much as possible, as sugar could make you more likely to get kidney stones.
2. Drink Plenty of Water
Staying hydrated is important at all ages, and whether or not you’ve had kidney stones, staying hydrated can help you prevent them. Drinking water helps to keep your body in balance. This includes everything from hormones to vitamins and minerals, including salt. Drinking enough water (at least eight to ten glasses a day) will help to dilute the minerals and deposits in your kidneys that could cause kidney stones. For added benefits, add lemon, lime, or orange slices to your water. This will not only give your water a subtle tropical taste, but it will also help prevent kidney stones. Citrus fruits high in citrate like these help block stone formation. Just don’t add any sugar with the fruits!
3. Get Enough Calcium
Some people have the misconception that because some kidney stones are formed from calcium oxalate, if they reduce their calcium intake, they will be less likely to get kidney stones. This is not true, and reducing your intake of calcium can actually increase your risk for kidney stones. This is because too little calcium can raise your oxalate levels and therefore raise your risk of kidney stones. Try to get the calcium you need from food as much as possible, as some calcium supplements can increase the likelihood of getting kidney stones. Foods high in calcium include collard greens, spinach, kale, arugula, turnip greens, and broccoli. If you enjoy dairy, you can get calcium from milk, yogurt, and cheese in addition to vegetables.
4. Cut Down on Animal Products
Animal protein can be very taxing on our bodies. Animal products high in protein include meat, eggs, and even seafood. These products can increase the production of uric acid in the body and could lead to kidney stones. Too much protein in your diet also reduces citrate (found in the lemons, limes, and oranges), which helps to inhibit stone formation. There are plenty of plant-based protein options out there, including beans, nuts, and grains such as quinoa. If you do include meat in your diet, keep your portion about the size of the palm of your hand. Minimizing your consumption of animal products will also help cut down your risk of heart disease, which is the number one cause of death in the United States.
Kidney stones aren’t inevitable, but some people are more susceptible to them. If you’ve had kidney stones once, chances are great that you’ll have them again. Be proactive and help prevent kidney stones before they form!