Kidney stones are painful accumulations of minerals in your kidneys and ureters. About 19% of men and 9% of women in the United States develop at least one kidney stone during their lifetimes.
You can usually “pass” a small stone on your own, but its passage may not be easy or pain-free. Larger stones may require medical intervention, including shockwave therapy or surgery.
If you have recurrent kidney stones, you probably wonder why they keep returning. You don’t want to spend your life in agony or go back for multiple urologic procedures.
Alex Lesani, MD, is an expert urologist in Las Vegas, Nevada, who specializes in diagnosing and treating kidney stones. He identifies the particular type of stones that your body tends to make and then helps you prevent new ones.
Do you have recurrent kidney stones? Following are a few reasons why that might be and what you can do about it.
You don’t drink enough
If you have kidney stones, water is your friend. Water and other healthy liquids hydrate your body and help your kidneys flush away excess minerals before they can create stones. Try to take in about 3 liters per day of drinks such as:
- Plain water
- Water with lemon
Stay away from sugary, fizzy, or salty drinks. If you exercise a lot or use a sauna or spa, you may also need to up your liquids. But don’t turn to sports drinks: They’re full of sugars and salts that are bad for your kidneys.
You’re too “meaty”
Protein is an important macronutrient, particularly as you age, because it helps to keep your muscles and bones strong. However, you may want to cut back if you’re getting most of your protein from animal, poultry, and fish sources.
Animal protein increases the amount of uric acid in your urine. Uric acid can not only accumulate in your kidneys to form stones, but it can also create crystals that affect your joints and cause a type of arthritis called gout.
Try substituting some animal proteins with plant proteins. However, check with your doctor to be sure they’re not too high in a substance called oxalates, which can increase your risk for stone formation.
You need more whole foods
Fast foods and junk foods are tasty, usually cheap, and very convenient, but they come with a hefty price tag when it comes to your health, including your kidney health. All processed foods — whether from the drive-thru or the inner grocery store aisles — tend to be high in sodium.
Even high-priced restaurants, unfortunately, usually use much more sodium in their foods than is good for you. Instead of relying on meals out, shift your focus to meals in. Buy fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, and fish. Learn tasty new cuisines that use variety and spices to flavor instead of relying solely on salt.
You don’t get enough minerals
Even though excess minerals cause kidney stones, you can prevent stones if you eat the right minerals in the right combinations. Foods that contain magnesium and calcium reduce the amount of oxalates in your urine.
If you do eat oxalates — which are found in foods such as spinach, kale, rhubarb, and beets — be sure to eat a high-calcium food at the same time. Also, cooking oxalate-rich foods helps reduce the burden of oxalates.
Aim for about 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day. Also, women should have 360 mg of magnesium daily, and men should aim for 420 mg.
Do you have a kidney stone now, or do you want to know how to prevent them? Call us today for a kidney stone diagnosis and treatment at 702-470-2579. You can also book your appointment online.