Your kidneys are two bean-shaped organs located just below your ribcage on either side of your spine. They are vital in keeping your body healthy by filtering and cleaning your blood. As the kidneys filter your blood, they produce urine, which flows down the ureters to the bladder.
Sometimes, toxins are not fully dissolved and removed during this process, leading to a dangerous buildup that can cause serious health complications.
When minerals such as calcium oxalate, uric acid, struvite, and cystine become highly concentrated, they crystallize into hard, pebble-like deposits that can cause pain or blockages as they move through the urinary system—these are kidney stones.
- severe pain on either side of your lower back
- persistent abdominal pain or stomach ache
- pain when urinating
- inability to urinate
- frequent urination
- foul-smelling urine
- blood in urine
- nausea or vomiting
- fever and chills
Call your primary care physician if you are experiencing these symptoms.
Drink Plenty of Water Every Day
Kidney stones are very painful, so you should be aware of what causes them and what you can do to reduce your risk of developing them. The best way to prevent kidney stones is to drink plenty of fluids, especially water.
Water helps dilute the substances in your urine that lead to stones. It also helps ensure that everything is fully functioning, and it helps flush out toxins and prevent the buildup of minerals.
If you are not drinking enough water, the minerals in your system have a higher likelihood of crystalizing into kidney stones.
Avoid Sodas and Other Sweetened Beverages
Sugary drinks, including sodas, sports drinks, and juices with added sugars, can increase your risk of kidney stones.
These drinks contain high levels of fructose, which can contribute to the development of kidney stones.
Instead, opt for water, unsweetened tea, coffee, or orange juice.
Eat More Citrus Foods
Oranges, lemons, grapefruits, and other citrus fruits are rich in citrate, which is known to be one of the best ingredients for preventing kidney stone formation.
Citrate binds with calcium in the urine, preventing it from becoming stones. It may also help break down small stones and prevents them from getting bigger.
In addition to eating these fruits, you can also drink freshly squeezed juice to get hydration.
Limit Your Salt Intake
Too much salt can increase your risk of developing kidney stones by increasing the amount of calcium in your urine.
Salt appears to prevent calcium from being fully absorbed by your system. Then, when there is a higher concentration of calcium left in your urine, it is likely to crystallize and turn into stones.
So instead of adding extra salt to your food, try flavoring your meals with herbs and spices for a healthier and tastier alternative.
Cut Back on Animal Protein
Animal proteins—meat, beef, pork, poultry, and eggs—tend to increase uric acid levels and other crystallizing waste products in your system.
And when your body works to digest these proteins, your citrate levels are reduced. This combination of effects means you will have higher levels of crystal-forming minerals and lower levels of crystal-inhibiting citrates, significantly raising your risk of kidney stones.
You may not need to cut out animal products altogether, but reducing your intake can help lower your risk for a painful experience in the future.
Ask your doctor about other risk factors (such as family history) and ways to prevent kidney stones. They may be able to prescribe medications or recommend more specific lifestyle changes based on your unique situation.