Take This 101 on Kidney Stones

Chances are either you or someone close to you has experienced the pain of kidney stones. Kidney stones affect just about one in 10 people in the country over their lifetimes.

Kidney stones (also called renal calculi, nephrolithiasis or urolithiasis) are composed of hard deposits made of minerals and salts that form in your kidneys.

They can affect any part of your urinary tract, from your kidneys to your bladder, and passing them can be painful. For some, drinking lots of water and pain medication may be just enough to get them through the ordeal. For others, stones can become lodged in the urinary tract and may require surgery.

If you are prone to stones, there are a few ways to prevent or at least lessen your chances of developing kidney stones. For instance saunas, hot yoga and intense exercise may be good for you, but they can also lead to kidney stones by dehydrating you.

Loss of water through sweating means less urinating, which means more chances for stone-producing minerals to settle in the kidneys. As always drink plenty of water, which will lead to more urination, especially during any activity that causes you to sweat.

Moderate your intake of oxalate, which is found in peanuts, spinach, beets and chocolate in high concentrations. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains and legumes also contain lower amounts. Oxalates can lead to stones.

But don’t go crazy and eliminate all oxalate foods. Instead, consume calcium and oxalate-rich foods together. This way, the oxalate and calcium can bind together, making stones less likely.

Some think cutting back on calcium can cut back on stones, but not so, say the experts. A diet low in calcium actually increases your risk. Instead, cut back on sodium.

Unfortunately, if you’ve had one your chances for more increase. Research shows that most people with kidney stones just don’t take medicines or follow nutritional advice. And without these, stones can reoccur.

Finally, red meat, organ meats and shellfish have high concentrations of purines, a natural chemical compound, which leads to a higher production of uric acid for the kidneys to excrete. This means your urine is more acidic, making it easier for uric acid stones to form.

To prevent these, cut down on high-purine foods and follow a healthy diet. Also, limit alcohol intake since it can increase uric acid levels in the blood.