Background: The occurrence of kidney stones is disproportionate in the southern region of the United States. Risk factors for the occurrence of kidney stones in this geographic area have not been reported previously.
Methods: The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) is an ongoing multicenter clinical investigation of strategies for the prevention of common causes of morbidity and mortality among postmenopausal women. A case-control ancillary study was conducted on 27,410 (white or black) women enrolled in the 9 southern WHI clinical centers. There were 1,179 cases (4.3%) of kidney stones at the baseline evaluation. Risk factors for stone formation were assessed in cases versus age- and race-matched control subjects.
Results: Risk factors (univariate) included low dietary potassium (2,404 versus 2,500 mg/day, P = 0.006), magnesium (243 versus 253 mg/day, P = 0.003) and oxalate (330 versus 345 mg/day, P = 0.02) intake, as well as increased body mass index (28.5 versus 27.7 kg/m2, P = 0.001) and a history of hypertension (42% versus 34%, P = 0.001). A slightly lower dietary calcium intake (683 versus 711 mg/day, P = 0.04) was noted in case subjects versus control subjects, but interpretation was confounded by the study of prevalent rather than incident cases. Supplemental calcium intake >500 mg/day was inversely associated with stone occurrence.
Conclusion: Multivariate risk factors for the occurrence of kidney stones in postmenopausal women include a history of hypertension, a low dietary intake of magnesium, and low use of calcium supplements.
The general causes of kidney stones may include lack of water in the body, production of excessive acidic environment in urine, urinary tract infections, etc. It is curable easily if diagnosed at an early stage.
Symptoms of Kidney Stones
There can be more than one symptom for kidney stones, which include,
- Excessive pain in the abdomen, lower back or urinary tract. The pain can vary from excruciating, sharp or mild depending on the severity.
- Persistent urge to urinate, or even blood in urine.
- Feeling nauseated or severe vomiting
- Constant sweating or chills
The symptoms may vary on the basis of severity. There can be a constant discomfort and pain on the sides, which could further spread down to other parts of the body.
Note: These symptoms may vary from person to person. It is not necessary to witness all these symptoms altogether.
Natural Remedies to Remove Kidney Stones
1. Kidney Beans
Kidney beans that have a close resemblance to that of a kidney, is known to remove kidney stones effectively and cleanse the kidneys. Kidney beans are high on fiber and are a great source of minerals and B vitamins that help in cleaning your kidneys and help the urinary tract function better.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
The presence of citric acid in apple cider vinegar helps in dissolving kidney stones, further alkalising blood and urine, and helping to remove the stones. Regular consumption of apple cider vinegar will help in flushing out the unnecessary toxins in the kidney.
3. Pomegranate Juice
The seeds and the juice of pomegranate are important for removing kidney stones as they are a good source of potassium. Potassium prevents the formation of mineral crystals that can develop in to kidney stones. It also reduces the formation of stones due to its astringent properties, flushing out the toxins from the kidney and lowering the acidity levels in the urine.
4. Dandelion Roots
According to our expert Nutritionist and Macrobiotic Health Coach, Shilpa Arora, drinking dandelion root tea (root pulled out of the ground) or dried organic dandelion for tea is good for cleansing kidneys. It acts as a kidney tonic and further stimulates the bile production that carries away the waste and aids in better digestion.
Basil is diuretic in nature and acts as a detoxifier that helps in removing kidney stones and further strengthens its functioning. It lowers uric acid levels in blood, cleansing the kidneys. It consists of acetic acid and other essential oils that help in breaking the stones down to pass through urine. It also acts as a pain killer.
6. Lemon and Olive Oil
While olive oil acts as a smooth passage to let the stone pass through the kidney to the bladder, according to the book Healing Foods by DK Publishing, lemons have the highest concentration of citrate. Consuming dilute lemon juice daily has been shown to decrease the rate of stone formation. The compound hydroxycitrate (HCA) can dissolve calcium oxalate crystals, the most common component for kidney stones.
Watermelon consists of high amount of potassium salts that help in regulating the acidic levels in urine. According to the book The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies, A Comprehensive Guide to the Ancient Healing of India by Vasant Lad, try drinking a cup of watermelon juice with one fourth teaspoon coriander powder. Watermelon is a diuretic, so this mixture will give the kidneys a good flushing and help to remove small stones and crystals. Use this two to three times a day. (Also read: Been Eating Watermelon for Dinner? You Need to Read This!)
8. DatesAccording to Shilpa Arora, “Dates soaked in water overnight and consumed after taking the seeds out works well for dissolving kidney stones.” Dates have a high amount of fiber that helps lower the risk of forming kidney stones. It also consists of magnesium that is responsible for cleansing the kidneys.
According to Shilpa, other remedies also include cherries, cucumber juice and coconut water, which work really well for removing kidney stones. However, we still recommend referring to your doctor before starting to consume these ingredients.
If you have kidney stones, you may need to follow a special diet plan. First, your healthcare professional will run blood and urine tests to find out what kind of risk factors you may have. Then your healthcare professional will tell you the diet changes and medical treatment you need to prevent having kidney stones come back.
A registered kidney dietitian can help you make the necessary changes in your diet plan and lifestyle.
What is a kidney stone?
A kidney stone is a hard mass that forms from crystals in the urine. For most people, natural chemicals in the urine keep stones from forming and causing problems.
Are all kidney stones the same?
No. The most common types of kidney stones are calcium stones followed by uric acid stones. Diet changes and medical treatment are individualized based on the type of stone, to prevent them from coming back.
What is the most important factor to prevent kidney stone formation?
Looking for more info about kidney stones?
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What kind of diet plan is recommended to prevent stones?
Will it help or hurt to take a vitamin or mineral supplement?
The B vitamins which include thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, B6 and B12 have not been shown to be harmful to people with kidney stones. In fact, some studies have shown that B6 may actually help people with high urine oxalate. However, it is best to check with your healthcare professional or dietitian for advice on the use of vitamin C, vitamin D, fish liver oils or other mineral supplements containing calcium since some supplements can increase the chances of stone formation in some individuals.
Diet Recommendations for Kidney Stones
- Drink plenty of fluid: 2-3 quarts/day
- This includes any type of fluid such as water, coffee and lemonade which have been shown to have a beneficial effect with the exception of grapefruit juice and soda.
- This will help produce less concentrated urine and ensure a good urine volume of at least 2.5L/day
- Limit foods with high oxalate content
- Spinach, many berries, chocolate, wheat bran, nuts, beets, tea and rhubarb should be eliminated from your diet intake
- Eat enough dietary calcium
- Three servings of dairy per day will help lower the risk of calcium stone formation. Eat with meals.
- Avoid extra calcium supplements
- Calcium supplements should be individualized by your physician and registered kidney dietitian
- Eat a moderate amount of protein
- High protein intakes will cause the kidneys to excrete more calcium therefore this may cause more stones to form in the kidney
- Avoid high salt intake
- High sodium intake increases calcium in the urine which increases the chances of developing stones
- Low salt diet is also important to control blood pressure.
- Avoid high doses of vitamin C supplements
- It is recommend to take 60mg/day of vitamin C based on the US Dietary Reference Intake
- Excess amounts of 1000mg/day or more may produce more oxalate in the body
Last updated June 2019
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© 2019 National Kidney Foundation. All rights reserved. This material does not constitute medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment recommendations.
If you’ve ever had a kidney stone, you surely remember it. The pain can be unbearable, coming in waves until the tiny stone passes through your urinary plumbing and out of the body. For many, kidney stones aren’t a one-time thing: in about half of people who have had one, another appears within seven years without preventive measures.
Preventing kidney stones isn’t complicated, but it does take some determination.
Kidney stones form when certain chemicals become concentrated enough in the urine to form crystals. The crystals grow into larger masses (stones), which can make their way through the urinary tract. If the stone gets stuck somewhere and blocks the flow of urine, it causes pain.
Most stones occur when calcium combines with oxalate. Stones can also form from uric acid, which is a byproduct of protein metabolism.
How to avoid kidney stones
Here are the five ways to help prevent kidney stones:
Drink plenty of water: Drinking extra water dilutes the substances in urine that lead to stones. Strive to drink enough fluids to pass 2 liters of urine a day, which is roughly eight standard 8-ounce cups. It may help to include some citrus beverages, like lemonade and orange juice. The citrate in these beverages helps block stone formation.
Eat calcium rich foods: Dietary calcium binds to oxalate in your intestines and thereby decreases the amount of oxalate that gets absorbed into the bloodstream and then excreted by the kidney. This lowers the concentration of oxalate in the urine, so there is less chance it can bind to urinary calcium. That leads to decreased risk of kidney stones.
Reduce sodium: A high-sodium diet can trigger kidney stones because it increases the amount of calcium in your urine. So, a low-sodium diet is recommended for the stone prone. Current guidelines suggest limiting total daily sodium intake to 2,300 mg. If sodium has contributed to kidney stones in the past, try to reduce your daily intake to 1,500 mg. This will also be good for your blood pressure and heart.
Limit animal protein: Eating too much animal protein, such as red meat, poultry, eggs, and seafood, boosts the level of uric acid and could lead to kidney stones. A high-protein diet also reduces levels of urinary citrate, the chemical in urine that helps prevent stones from forming. If you’re prone to stones, limit your daily meat intake to a quantity that is no bigger than a pack of playing cards. This is also a heart-healthy portion.
Avoid stone-forming foods: Beets, chocolate, spinach, rhubarb, tea, and most nuts are rich in oxalate, which can contribute to kidney stones. If you suffer from stones, your doctor may advise you to avoid these foods or to consume them in smaller amounts.
For everyone else, particular foods and drinks are unlikely to trigger kidney stones unless consumed in extremely high amounts. Some studies have shown that people who take high doses of vitamin C in the form of supplements are at slightly higher risk of kidney stones. That may be because the body converts vitamin C into oxalate.
Objective: Formation of kidney stones is a multifactorial disease, and diet and lifestyle are suggested to contribute remarkably to increased prevalence. The population of Guangzhou, China has a high prevalence rate of kidney stones; however, its risk factors are still unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate the dietary risk factors for kidney stones in southern China.
Design: A case-control study was carried out.
Setting: This study was carried out at the Department of Health Management Center, Guangzhou Nanfang Hospital, China.
Subjects: This study involved 1,019 newly diagnosed kidney stone patients and 987 healthy control subjects.
Intervention: A questionnaire regarding dietary patterns and supplements was used to investigate the risk factors for kidney stone formation.
Main outcome measure: Food intake frequency, beverage and alcohol consumption, food supplements, and anthropometry were assessed.
Results: In the analysis, we found positive associations of kidney stones with consumption of grains (odds ratio [OR] = 2.08; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.08, 4.02) and bean products (OR = 3.50; 95% CI = 1.61, 7.59) in women. The variable “fluid drinking” showed a significant protective effect against kidney stones in men (OR = 0.57; 95% CI = 0.36, 0.88). Consuming leafy vegetables more than 3 times per day was positively associated with stones in both men and women (OR = 2.02; 95% CI = 1.04, 3.91 and OR = 3.86; 95% CI = 1.48, 10.04, respectively). Other dietary factors, dietary supplements, and specific food were not related to kidney stone formation in Guangzhou, China.
Conclusion: The results confirmed that specific diet can affect stone formation in the Chinese population, and varied risk factors were found for different genders.
If you’ve ever passed a kidney stone, you probably would not wish it on your worst enemy, and you’ll do anything to avoid it again. “Kidney stones are more common in men than in women, and in about half of people who have had one, kidney stones strike again within 10 to 15 years without preventive measures,” says Dr. Brian Eisner, co-director of the Kidney Stone Program at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
Where do kidney stones come from?
Kidney stones form develop when certain substances, such as calcium, oxalate, and uric acid, become concentrated enough to form crystals in your kidneys. The crystals grow larger into “stones.” About 80% to 85% of kidney stones are made of calcium. The rest are uric acid stones, which form in people with low urine pH levels.
After stones form in the kidneys, they can dislodge and pass down the ureter, blocking the flow of urine. The result is periods of severe pain, including flank pain (pain in one side of the body between the stomach and the back), sometimes with blood in the urine, nausea, and vomiting. As the stones pass down the ureter toward the bladder, they may cause frequent urination, bladder pressure, or pain in the groin.
“If you experience any of these symptoms, see your primary care physician,” says Dr. Eisner. “He or she will likely perform a urinalysis and a renal ultrasound, abdominal x-ray, or CT scan to confirm kidney stones are the source of your pain and determine their size and number.”
Let kidney stones pass
Stones typically take several weeks to a few months to pass, depending on the number of stones and their size. Over-the-counter pain medications, like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB), acetaminophen (Tylenol), or naproxen (Aleve), can help you endure the discomfort until the stones pass. Your doctor also may prescribe an alpha blocker, which relaxes the muscles in your ureter and helps pass stones quicker and with less pain.
If the pain becomes too severe, or if they are too large to pass, they can be surgically removed with a procedure called a ureteroscopy. Here, a small endoscope (a device with a miniature video camera and tools at the end of a long tube) is passed into the bladder and up the ureter while you are under general anesthesia. A laser breaks up the stones, and then the fragments are removed.
Take steps to bypass kidney stones
Even though kidney stones can be common and recur once you’ve had them, there are simple ways to help prevent them. Here are some strategies that can help:
1. Drink enough water. A 2015 meta-analysis from the National Kidney Foundation found that people who produced 2 to 2.5 liters of urine daily were 50% less likely to develop kidney stones than those who produced less. It takes about 8 to 10 8-ounce glasses (about 2 liters total) of water daily to produce that amount.
2. Skip high-oxalate foods. Such foods, which include spinach, beets, and almonds, obviously raise oxalate levels in the body. However, moderate amounts of low-oxalate foods, such as chocolate and berries, are okay.
3. Enjoy some lemons. Citrate, a salt in citric acid, binds to calcium and helps block stone formation. “Studies have shown that drinking ½ cup of lemon juice concentrate diluted in water each day, or the juice of two lemons, can increase urine citrate and likely reduce kidney stone risk,” says Dr. Eisner.
4. Watch the sodium. A high-sodium diet can trigger kidney stones because it increases the amount of calcium in your urine. Federal guidelines suggest limiting total daily sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams (mg). If sodium has contributed to kidney stones in the past, try to reduce your daily sodium to 1,500 mg.
5. Cut back on animal protein. Eating too much animal protein, such as meat, eggs, and seafood, boosts the level of uric acid. If you’re prone to stones, limit your daily meat intake to a quantity that is no bigger than a pack of playing cards.
Purpose: Several dietary and lifestyle factors are associated with a higher risk of kidney stones. We estimated the population attributable fraction and the number needed to prevent for modifiable risk factors, including body mass index, fluid intake, DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) style diet, dietary calcium intake and sugar sweetened beverage intake.
Materials and methods: We used data on the HPFS (Health Professionals Follow-Up Study) cohort and the NHS (Nurses’ Health Study) I and II cohorts. Information was obtained from validated questionnaires. Poisson regression models adjusted for potential confounders were used to estimate the association of each risk factor with the development of incident kidney stones and calculate the population attributable fraction and the number needed to prevent.
Results: The study included 192,126 participants who contributed a total of 3,259,313 person-years of followup, during which an incident kidney stone developed in 6,449 participants. All modifiable risk factors were independently associated with incident stones in each cohort. The population attributable fraction ranged from 4.4% for a higher intake of sugar sweetened beverages to 26.0% for a lower fluid intake. The population attributable fraction for all 5 risk factors combined was 57.0% in HPFS, 55.2% in NHS I and 55.1% in NHS II. The number needed to prevent during 10 years ranged from 67 for lower fluid intake to 556 for lower dietary calcium intake.
Conclusions: Five modifiable risk factors accounted for more than 50% of incident kidney stones in 3 large prospective cohorts. Assuming a causal relation, our estimates suggest that preventive measures aimed at reducing those factors could substantially decrease the burden of kidney stones in the general population.
Keywords: diet, food, and nutrition; kidney calculi; life style; risk factors; risk reduction behavior.
Foods high in animal protein increase your chances of forming two types of stones (uric acid and calcium oxalate). So be careful not to eat too much of these:
6. Avoid Vitamin C Supplements
High doses of Vitamin C taken daily can cause calcium oxalate kidney stones, so being careful when taking this supplement. You can still eat food with Vitamin C in it.
7. Herbal Remedies
If you are into more natural remedies, try Chanca Piedra, which is an herbal kidney and gallbladder stone breaker. It is a folk remedy and thought to help stop calcium-oxalate stones from forming.
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If you decide to use it, please be mindful that this and other remedies may not be well-regulated or researched for the prevention of kidney stones.
In conclusion, nobody wants to experience the pain that is a kidney stone. These seven ways can help prevent your first kidney stone or avoid a recurring one.
Whichever the case, following a well-balanced diet, including exercise, can help you and I succeed on this journey. Now, the next time you are grocery shopping make sure you read those labels and use this list to help you find the right foods for you.