Kidney stones also known as Renal Calculi are small crystal like substances found in kidney or any other part of urinary tract. The urinary tract includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra.
Kidney stones are small stones or masses of salts and minerals. They can be as small as a mustard seed to as large as a ball. Kidney stones are associated with pain. Another symptom is blood in urine. Many other symptoms are there like pain in groin, flank. Commonest being abdomen pain.
Kidney stones are formed when there is more crystal forming substances such as oxalate, calcium and uric acid than the fluid in your urine can dilute and flush it from your body.
Causes of Kidney Stone
Kidney stones are common in people from 20-40 years. Reason for kidney stones is:
- Long term dehydration
- Family history
- Presence of any medical condition: Kidney diseases like renal tubular acidosis, cystinuria, hyperparathyroidism, some urinary tract infections
Other causes of kidney stone include:
- high-protein, salt, or glucose diet
- hyperparathyroid condition
- gastric bypass surgery
- inflammatory bowel diseases that increase calcium absorption
- taking medications such as diuretics, anti-seizure drugs, and calcium-based antacids
Different types of Kidney stones:
- Calcium Stones: These are the most common form of stones. These are usually calcium oxalate stones. Oxalates are present in many foods. Oxalate is found in many fruits, vegetables like potato, spinach, beet root, nuts, and chocolates. Moreover our liver also produces oxalates. So if you have a calcium oxalate stone then restrict the consumption of oxalate in diet keeping the calcium requirements same. Calcium phosphate stones can also occur.
- Struvite stones: These form of stones are very common in women. These are formed if there is any kind of urinary tract infection. It can also be formed if there is any kidney infection. Struvite stones grow at a faster pace and can become quite huge resulting in obstruction if the urinary tract.
- Uric Acid stones: These types of stones are common in men than in women. It occurs in people who have high protein diet and less water or fluid intake in the diet and also in people who has gout. Uric acid stone is also found in people who are under chemotherapy. The content of acid is too high in urine. Urine then starts crystallising resulting in stone. People who have uric acid stones should have less non-vegetarian proteins and high water intake. There are also certain genetic factors which may also increase risk if uric acid stones
- Cystine Stones: These stones form in people with a hereditary disorder that causes the kidneys to excrete too much of certain amino acids (cystinuria).
If you had kidney stone in past, then you should surely make use of the following guidelines so that there is lower risk of having stones again. As we discussed that stones are of different types. So it would be great if you know which type if stone you have, as recommendations will slightly differ for different stones. You can check with your physician if you are really unsure.
Tips for kidney stones:
- Plenty of fluids: Drinking plenty of water is very important for any type of kidney stone. Drinking more water will help to flush out the kidneys and helps in diluting the stone-forming substances and thereby reducing the risk of stone formation.
- Minimum 3 litres of water should be consumed. If you are not drinking so much water then start by adding one r two glasses water every day.
- Have a glass of fluid each hour during waking hours, and a large glass of water before going to bed. Also drink a glass of water if you wake up during the night. Distribute your water throughout the day.
- Lemon juice is a good source of citrate which helps to prevent stones forming. Drink 100ml of lemon juice daily (could be added to water).
There are many people who do not like plain water or they forgot to drink water. So just check out few other tips which will help you to overcome those problems.
- Include buttermilk with the meals.
- Carry water bottle with you throughout the day.
- Add some lime, lemon, mint leaves to your water. This will add refreshing flavour to your water.
- Set reminders for water. As it is very important to drink water for people facing kidney stones problems.
Dietary Restriction for Calcium Oxalate stones:
- Less Sodium in diet: High salt intake increases the amount of calcium in urine. Reduce salt intake to 1tsp/day.
Ways to reduce Salt/ Sodium:
- Avoid processed foods as they are highest in sodium/salt. Ready-to-eat foods, fast foods and restaurant meals are often high in sodium.
- Avoid frozen foods, opt for fresh foods like fruits, vegetables, chicken, fish, eggs
- Low Salt or No added salt will be better options to eat
- Do not have habit of extra topping of salt.
- Do not keep salt sprinkler on the dining table.
Salt can be replaced by freshly ground pepper, dry mustard powder; Lemon juice, lime juice, vinegar; A sprinkle of dried herbs or chopped fresh herbs; Garlic, curry, chilli, onion, fresh ginger, spring onion.
People who are trying to reduce their sodium intake should be very careful of the indirect sodium they are having in their processed and packaged foods. Following are few chemical which are used in processed and packaged foods. So all these are very much equal to salt, rather harmful than salt. So the list goes
- monosodium glutamate, or :MSG
- baking powder, which contains sodium bicarbonate and other chemicals
- sodium bicarbonate, the chemical name for baking soda
- sodium nitrate or nitrite
- sodium alginate
- disodium phosphate
- Restrict high Oxalate foods: Low Oxalate diet will reduce amount of oxalate present in urine. So less chances of Oxalate stone formation.
- Limit intake of Beetroot, egg plant, sweet potato, spinach, nuts, peanut butter, Strong black tea, Soy, wheat, chocolate, wheat bran, strawberries, blackberries, dried figs and star fruit.
- Do not restrict calcium: Calcium is very essential for your bones and teeth. RDA of calcium 1000mg per day is recommended. Getting too little calcium in your diet can cause oxalate levels to rise and cause kidney stones. It is advisable to meet up calcium requirement from foods as there are few researches which say supplemental calcium leads to calcium oxalate stone.
- Moderate animal protein: Limit protein from meat, seafood, fish, chicken, eggs
- Vitamin Supplementation: It is recommended to avoid Vit C and Vit D supplementation. whereas Vit B supplements are considered to be safe for consumptions.
Dietary Restriction for Uric Acid stones:
- Limit high purine foods which includes Red meat, organ meats, gravies and meat extracts · Mackerel, anchovies, herring · Shellfish
- Limit alcohol intake: Alcohol interferes with the removal of uric acid from your body.
- Limit sugar sweetened food and drinks
- Increase fruit and vegetable intake Eating less animal-based protein and eating more fruits and vegetables will help decrease urine acidity which will help reduce the chance of stone formation
- Less urine + more stone forming minerals = kidney stones
- More urine + less stone forming minerals = no kidney stones
- Drink more fluids and the right type of fluid
Let’s take a quick glance and a summary on the foods which has to be restricted for kidney stones
Calcium Oxalate Stones
- Reduce sodium/ Salt
- Limit animal protein
- Enough calcium
- Avoid Oxalate rich foods.
Calcium Phosphate Stones
- Reduce sodium/ Salt
- Limit animal protein
- Enough calcium
Uric Acid Stones
- Limit animal protein
- Herbal tea made from dried nettle leaf is just perfect to flushout kidney stones.
- Lemon and olive oil is another great herbal concoction that must be drank every day before going to be. This helps in dissolving stone and reduces in size thereby flushing off the urinary tract.
- Juniper: One of the best kidney stone removing herb.
- Dandelion Root acts as kidney tonic and kidney cleanser. Taking upto 500mg twice a day will be helpful.
- Horsetail tea is an effective natural remedy for kidney stones. 3-4 cups in a day should help.
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