One of the ways your body eliminates waste is through your urine. Your kidneys filter your blood and remove toxins and other unwanted substances, which are eliminated through your urine. Sometimes, however, these materials (such as calcium oxalate, uric acid, struvite, and cystine) are not completely dissolved and flushed out, leading to crystallization. These crystals can grow larger and cause significant pain when they pass through your urinary system. Or, they may get stuck and block urine flow, causing serious complications.
Symptoms of kidney stones include:
- severe pain in your lower back on either side
- persistent stomach ache or belly pain
- blood in urine
- pain when urinating
- inability to urinate
- frequent urination
- nausea or vomiting
- fever and chills
- foul-smelling urine
See a doctor immediately if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. Kidney stones tend to be very painful and, if left untreated, can have serious consequences.
Since kidney stones are excruciating, taking steps to prevent them from forming in the first place is the best course of action. Here are four tips to help you avoid kidney stones:
Drink More Water
One of the most significant risk factors for kidney stones is under-hydration. When there is insufficient fluid in your system, the waste products in your urine can become concentrated and form crystals.
Increasing the amount of water your drink each day will help ensure the waste products in your urinary system are diluted enough to avoid crystallization.
Avoid drinking sodas and beverages with added sugars, as these may contribute to kidney stone formation.
Eat Less Animal Protein
When you eat meats like beef, pork, poultry, and eggs, the high-protein content in these foods can increase uric acid levels and other crystal-forming waste products in your urine. Metabolizing these proteins will also reduce your levels of citrate—a substance that inhibits kidney stone formation.
Consume More Citrus
Citrus foods like oranges, lemons, and grapefruits can help increase your citrate levels. Citrate is considered one of the strongest inhibitors of kidney stone formation. You can eat the whole fruit or drink fresh-squeezed orange or lemon juice to get the added benefit of increased hydration.
Eat Less Salt
High sodium intake can also contribute to the formation of kidney stones, possibly due to how salt affects calcium metabolism. If your meals include a lot of salt, the calcium in your urinary system may not be properly absorbed, leading to higher concentrations and an increased risk of crystallization.
If you are concerned about your risk of developing kidney stones due to family history or other factors, it is essential to talk to your doctor. They may recommend additional measures, such as medications or personalized changes to your lifestyle or diet to help prevent kidney stones from forming.