Urolithiasis (urolithiasis) is a disease associated with the formation of stones in the kidneys and / or other organs of the urinary system. The type of urinary stone usually depends on the age of the patient. In older people, uric acid stones predominate. More than 60% of stones are mixed in composition. Urinary stones almost always form in the kidneys, in the ureter. In the bladder, they are usually secondary, that is, descended from the kidney. The stones can be both small (up to 3 mm – sand in the kidneys) and large (up to 15 cm). In medicine, cases are described when stones weighed several kilograms.
When the kidneys become filled with stones, the pain becomes unbearable and permanent. Small stones can be excreted in the urine without causing much discomfort. Untreated stones increase in size, become stuck in the urinary tract, and obstruct the passage of urine. Large stones can seriously damage the urinary tract. This is why prevention of this problem is very important for health. What are some good habits to develop to protect your kidneys from stones?
1. Drink plenty of plain water
The risk of urolithiasis is twice as high among people who do not drink enough water per day. The fluid helps the kidneys cleanse metabolic waste from the body. If they are not removed in a timely manner, then they crystallize and turn into stones.
The color of urine may indicate a lack of fluid in the body. It is usually dark yellow in the morning due to the accumulation of waste generated during the night. But if the dark shade persists throughout the day, this indicates that the body does not have enough water. The amount of liquid consumed on average should be 8-10 glasses. This volume, in addition to water, may include other drinks and liquid products.
Water with lemon juice is very useful. It increases the amount of citric acid in urine, which in turn prevents calcium from forming an insoluble salt with oxalic acid.
However, it is important not to overdo it with a water diet, as kidney function can be impaired.
2. Eat foods rich in calcium
A decrease in calcium in the diet leads to an increase in the amount of oxalates (esters and salts of oxalic acid) in the body, which gradually causes urolithiasis. In the intestine, calcium binds to oxalates, which prevents them from being absorbed into the bloodstream and entering the kidneys. Studies have shown that dietary calcium intake reduced the risk of kidney stones, while dietary supplements with calcium, on the contrary, increased the risk of kidney stones.
For this reason, it is recommended to use not calcium supplements, but foods rich in it (milk, cottage cheese, kefir, sesame seeds, whole grain wheat products, etc.). Sunbathing in the morning (about 15 minutes a day) is also helpful to help the body produce vitamin D, which is needed for calcium absorption.
3. Avoid a diet rich in oxalate
Regular and abundant consumption of oxalate-containing foods also increases the risk of kidney stones. Oxalates prevent calcium from being absorbed in the body, which leads to the formation of calcium oxalates, which turn into stones. Be wary of diets rich in oxalate-containing foods such as sorrel, spinach, rhubarb, cabbage, celery, Swiss chard, beets, chocolate, strawberries, etc. Excessive intake of vitamin C is also dangerous – it accumulates and is converted into oxalates.
4. Limit salt in the diet
Foods rich in sodium contribute to the buildup of calcium in the urine and the formation of kidney stones. Calcium increases the amount of urinary protein, which leads to kidney disease.
In addition, excess sodium in the body makes the kidneys work especially hard. As a result, they wear out quickly, becoming more vulnerable to disease. Diets with a low salt content are suitable for the prevention of urolithiasis – no more than 5 g per day, this is about 1 teaspoon. Instead of ordinary table salt, it is better to use sea salt, as well as spices and aromatic herbs.
By the way, the more salt a person consumes, the more calcium is removed from his bones.
5. Eat less sugar and sweeteners
Foods high in sugar and fructose create a favorable environment for the formation of kidney stones. Thus, excessive consumption of sugar leads to an imbalance of minerals in the body, interfering with the absorption of calcium and magnesium. In some cases, fructose can be metabolized to oxalate. Industrial sweeteners are also harmful by reducing kidney function. It is best to add natural honey or stevia to tea and coffee.
6. Reduce consumption of red meat
Excessive consumption of red meat is very bad for the kidneys. An excess of protein increases the metabolic load on the kidneys and disrupts the nitrogen balance in the body, which is harmful not only for the kidneys, but also for the body as a whole. Red meat contains a lot of purines, which stimulate the production of uric acid in the body. This lowers the overall pH of the urine. The high, high concentration of acid in the urine, in turn, creates a favorable environment for the formation of kidney stones.
7. Exercise to maintain a healthy weight
The risk of developing kidney stones also increases obesity, so regular exercise is very beneficial for preventing kidney stones.
Exercise normalizes blood pressure, improves kidney microcirculation, and generally reduces the risk of chronic kidney disease. Research from the American Society of Nephrology has shown that regular, moderate exercise reduces the risk of many factors associated with kidney stones. To do this, it is enough to devote to simple workouts (running, walking, cycling, exercise) about 30 minutes, five times a week.
8. Refuse carbonated drinks
Excessive consumption of sugary drinks with gas and soda increases the risk of urolithiasis. The phosphoric acid in baking soda acidifies urine and promotes stone formation. Sugary sodas also increase your risk of chronic kidney disease.
9. Do not drink fluoridated water
Drinking fluoridated water is highly undesirable for the kidneys. It has been proven that regular consumption of fluoride-rich water leads to the formation of kidney stones. One of the signs that a person is consuming too much fluoride is discoloration of the tooth enamel or the appearance of characteristic stains on it, which are attributed to a disease known as dental fluorosis. It is best to drink bottled, settled and boiled water, or use a water purification system from fluoride.
10. There are many fruits and vegetables
Diets with an emphasis on fruits and vegetables are helpful in preventing kidney stones. It is recommended that you eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables daily. Fruits and vegetables rich in magnesium, fiber, potassium, and antioxidants will help protect the kidneys from stone buildup.
11. Quit smoking
Cigarettes are one of the causes of reduced blood flow throughout the body, including the kidneys. The less blood goes to the kidneys, the worse they work.
Do not postpone a visit to your doctor if you periodically experience severe or sharp pain in the lumbar region or if you have difficulty urinating.