Kidney stones, also known as renal stones or nephrolithiasis, are made up of hard waste material that accumulates in the kidneys and forms crystals.
There are 4 types of kidney stones, but up to 80 percent of them are calcium oxalate stones. Less common forms include uric acid, cysteine and struvite.
Smaller stones are not a problem in most cases, but larger ones block a part of the urinary tract while leaving the body, causing vomiting, bleeding and severe pain.
8 Natural Ways To Reduce The Risk of Forming Kidney Stones
1. Stay Hydrated
Drinking plenty of liquids is critical when it comes to prevention of kidney stones. Fluids not only increase the volume, but dilute substances that form stones, making them less likely to crystallize.
But, not all fluids are equal for kidney stone prevention. For instance, drinks like tea, beer, wine, orange juice and coffee have been associated with a lower risk.
2. Increase Your Citric Acid Intake
Citric acid is an acid found in most fruits and veggies, particularly in limes and lemons. It helps prevent calcium oxalate kidney stones in two ways. The first one is by preventing their formation by binding with calcium in the urine and the latter is by preventing their enlargement.
3. Limit Foods High in Oxalates
Oxalate is an anti-nutrient that is found in plant foods like cocoa, leafy greens, fruits, and veggies. It binds to calcium and other minerals, which leads to formation of crystals hence stone formation.
4. Don’t Take High Doses of Vitamin C
It has been scientifically shown that vitamin C supplements are linked to an increased risk of getting kidney stones.
A study done on middle-aged and older Swedish men discovered that those taking vitamin C supplements are twice as likely to develop kidney stones as those don’t taking them. But, vitamin C from food sources like lemons isn’t linked to an increased stone risk.
5. Get Enough Calcium
Calcium binds to oxalate in the diet, which in turn prevents it from being properly absorbed. Dairy products like yogurt, cheese and milk are the best dietary sources of calcium.
The recommended daily intake (RDI) of calcium is 1,000 mg daily, for most adults. But, the RDI is 1,200 mg per day for women over the age of 50 and everyone over the age of 70.
6. Cut Back on Salt
Eating plenty of salt is associated with an increased risk of kidney stones in most people. A high sodium intake, the key component of table salt, can increase calcium secretion through the urine, which increase the risk of kidney stone formation. The best way to cut back on salt is to eliminate packaged, processed foods from your diet.
7. Increase Your Magnesium Intake
Mounting evidence suggests that magnesium helps prevent calcium oxalate kidney stone formation. Although the way it works isn’t fully understood, it is believed that magnesium reduces the absorption of oxalate in the gut. The RDI for magnesium is 400 mg daily.
8. Eat Less Animal Protein
Eating a lot of animal protein sources, such as dairy, fish, and meat, is linked to an increased risk of kidney stones. It is believed that it works by increasing the calcium excretion and decreasing levels of citrate.
In addition, animal protein sources are high in purines, compounds that are broken down into uric acid, increasing the likelihood of forming uric acid stones. While all foods contain purines, organ meats, liver and kidney are the highest in this compound. On the other hand, plant foods are relatively low in this substance.