No Stones Means No Pain
Perhaps you have experienced the pain first hand or can remember a certain Seinfeld episode. For the 1 out of 1000 Americans who are hospitalized due to kidney stones each year, this is not a laughing matter.
Normally, the calcium, oxalate, and phosphate in our urine remain in solution due to pH control and protective compounds like citrate, glutamate and magnesium. Stones occur due to imbalances in the body caused by either a primary metabolic defect or diet. Lack of protective factors, stress factors of life style and environment also play a role. The majority of kidney stones are comprised of calcium oxalate or calcium phosphate. Although Naturopathic Medicine can provide natural ways to decrease the size of kidney stones, make passage easier, reduce the need for surgery and decrease pain, prevention is the best approach.
Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!
This is probably the most critical and easily corrected factor in preventing stones. Water intake of less than 64oz per day leads to a reduced urine volume, which is a major factor in producing kidney stones. Optimal intake is approximately 8-12 oz of water every waking hour. Increasing fluids alone can lower stone recurrence by 60% according to some research. Soft drinks should be avoided due to their high phosphate content and potential for promoting stones. Elimination of soft drinks has been shown to moderately reduce recurrence of kidney stones in men.
Drop the Salt Shaker
Table salt has been shown to increase calcium excretion into the urine leading to stones. It also suppresses citrate production. Citrate prevents calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate stone formation. The suggested guideline is to have no more than 2 g (~ 1 tsp) of salt per day.
The amino acids in animal products can be broken down to oxalate which leads to stone formation. Too many animal products can also acidify the urine, which causes stones. Luckily it has been shown that meat eaters who also ate a large amount of fresh fruits and vegetables (> 6 servings per day) had a lower rate of stones.
More Fruits and Veggies
High intake of fruits and vegetables is important to keep the urine alkaline and prevent calcium oxalate crystallization. Lemons are particularly important as they contain the highest amount of citrate. Therefore lemonade is an ideal anti-stone beverage. To make; add 4 oz of lemon juice to 60 oz of water. Sweeten to taste with stevia or maple syrup, and drink in eight divided portions throughout the day. Don't use asparatame as it tends to increase calcium in the urine.
The Calcium Debate
Even though it might seem that calcium should be avoided to prevent kidney stones, this is not the case. For most people with kidney stones, dietary calcium (any calcium taken with or as part of food) tends to reduce urine calcium levels by forming poorly absorbed calcium oxalate complexes. However, calcium must be taken with food. Otherwise it will tend to promote stones as it is not available to complex oxalates.