More than 10% of men in the United States suffer from kidney stones, which are lumps of minerals that collect in your kidneys and travel into your ureter, where they block the flow of urine. Kidney stones can be excruciatingly painful; even small ones may take months to pass on their own.
Alex Lesani, MD, a highly skilled and compassionate urologist, treats kidney stones with the latest therapies — including shock-wave lithotripsy — at his Las Vegas, Nevada, office. However, he wants to help you avoid kidney stones in the first place.
One of the best ways to prevent kidney stones is to manage your weight. Here’s why.
Obesity is a risk factor for kidney stones
You may have a tendency to develop stones because they run in your family. You have no control over that particular risk factor. But one of the other main risk factors for kidney stones is obesity.
In fact, stone formers have a significantly higher body-mass index (BMI) than non-stone formers do. Also, women and men who are obese are more likely to develop co-morbidities, such as type 2 diabetes and hypertension. Both of these conditions are also associated with a high risk for kidney stones.
Kidney stones come from the “wrong” foods
Kidney stones develop when you eat too many foods that contain high amounts of sodium, trans fats, additives, and poor-quality proteins. Processed foods, junk food, and meats with nitrates and nitrites also trigger inflammation in your body, which may cause you to gain weight at an accelerated weight.
In contrast, eating the “right” foods helps prevent kidney stones and also helps you lose weight. The DASH diet was originally developed to help you keep your heart healthy, but it keeps your kidneys healthy, too.
You don’t have to feel deprived, just switch to a new eating plan that emphasizes:
- Fresh fruits
- Fresh vegetables
- Cooked vegetables
- Whole grains
- High-quality, pastured protein sources
Modify the DASH diet so you can enjoy foods from your culture or your childhood by creating healthier versions of them. You can find cookbooks in the library or online that can set you to dreaming about the right kinds of foods for your body … and your kidneys.
Exercise dissolves stones
If you’re obese, you may find it difficult and cumbersome to move around. However, moving around eventually helps you shed your pounds and become more mobile. Dr. Lesani can refer you to a medical weight loss specialist.
You might also choose to work with a trainer or physical therapist while you move from obese to overweight to a healthy, stable weight. Not only does exercise burn off fat when you do it hard enough to sweat, the sweat helps dissolve your kidney stones. Try:
- Walking around the neighborhood
- Doing housework
- Using a stationary bike
- Walking or jogging on a treadmill
- Using an elliptical machine
A trainer helps you find the right kind of exercise for your current fitness level, then ups your game as you lose the pounds. The good news is, the more you exercise and the lighter you get, the easier it is to exercise, work up a good sweat, and prevent kidney stones.
If you’re not able to hire a trainer or join a gym, find a friend or family member who can be a workout partner. A daily walk with a loved one or pet might be a good first step.
Drink out your stones
No, don’t reach for a glass of alcohol: In fact, alcohol raises your risk for kidney stones. However, water and other healthy beverages lowers your risk if you drink about two liters per day. Choose from:
- Black coffee
- Plain tea
- Water infused with fruits or vegetables
If you already have small kidney stones, Dr. Lesani recommends drinking about three liters per day to help dissolve and pass them naturally.
If you’re currently in pain from kidney stones, you don’t have to lose weight before you get relief. Call our friendly team at 702-470-2579, or book online to learn more about how to prevent kidney stones or for kidney stone treatment.