Kidney Stones: Types and Causes
Kidney stones, or renal calculi, are small, hard masses that form in the kidneys. They usually originate in the kidneys but can develop anywhere along the urinary tract, including the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra, and can cause extreme pain to the person. The stones are made up of small, solid crystals that usually develop when there is a decrease in urine or an increase in certain substances in the body, such as minerals and salts. That said, not every kidney stones are of the same composition as it can have different causes like diet, kidney infections or other health conditions.
Therefore, to better understand, here are some of the various types of kidney stones and their causes:
- Calcium stones
These are often made of calcium oxalate and are one of the most common types of kidney stones. Consuming too much of foods rich in calcium oxalate can increase the risk of developing this type of kidney stone. That said, while avoiding oxalate-rich foods is important, getting the right amount of calcium in your diet can also help in preventing kidney stones formation.
- Uric acid
Next to calcium, this type of stone is considered the second most common and usually develops when urine becomes too acidic. People who are dealing with conditions such as gout, diabetes, obesity and other types of metabolic syndrome are prone to getting this type of kidney stone. Diet excessively rich in purines, which is a colourless substance mostly found in animal protein including fish, shellfish, meats, can significantly increase the acidic level in the urine.
Although not as common as the other two, kidney stones made of struvite can be often large and can cause urinary obstruction. They are usually formed due to kidney infections and are mostly found in patients with urinary tract infections (UTIs). Nonetheless, treating an underlying infection can help prevent the development of Struvite stones.
Cystine stones are the least common. In fact, studies have shown that only about 1 in 7000 people worldwide get this type of kidney stone. This is mainly because cystine kidney stones only affect people with cystinuria, which is a type of genetic disorder. With cystine kidney stone, an acid that occurs naturally in the body leaks from the kidneys into the urine.
Kidney Stones Diet and Prevention Tips
Kidney stones can happen to anyone. Even a healthy person is susceptible to the condition. This is because diet plays a major role in the development of kidney stones. And although there may be no certain ways to prevent kidney stones formation, especially if you have a family history of the condition, that does not mean you cannot reduce the risk. Taking care of your diet, drinking enough water, adopting healthy lifestyle habits, along with some medications, can go a long way as far as reducing the risk of kidney stones formation is concerned.
Here are some of the things to look out for to help reduce the risk of kidney stones:
- Oxalates – These are organic compounds that easily bind to certain minerals like calcium, which can lead to kidney stones formation. Spinach, peanuts, sweet potatoes, etc are all packed with these compounds.
- Sodium or salt – Too much of sodium consumption can increase calcium concentration in the urine, which then increases the risk of kidney stones.
- Animal protein – Purines are a substance found in animal protein that can increase the level of acid in urine. This includes meat, eggs, chicken and seafood.
- Medications – Certain over-the-counter drugs, such as antacids, antibiotics, decongestants, diuretics, steroids and certain medicines for cancer, HIV and epilepsy may contribute to kidney stones.
- Previous case – Unless taken preventive measures, one is more likely to get kidney stones again, especially if they have already experienced it in the past.
- Family history – Genes also plays a significant role in kidney stones formation. Studies have shown that 40% of the people with kidney stones have family members or relatives who also have kidney stones at some point in their lives.
What You Can Do To Prevent Kidney Stones Naturally
As mentioned earlier, diet plays a significant role in the case of kidney stones. What you eat or do not eat can contribute to the formation of kidney stones, even if you are physically fit and healthy. Here is what you have to know to prevent kidney stones naturally:
1. Take control of your diet
Choose your foods wisely and carefully. Make sure to check food labels and read the ingredients. Avoid foods that are high in oxalates, sodium chloride, sodium nitrate, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and make sure to cut back on salt, soft drinks and animal protein.
2. Eat more citrus fruits.
Lemons and limes are rich sources of citrate, which is a chemical that prevents calcium stones from forming, as well as breaking up small stones, allowing them to pass more easily. Drinking fresh-squeezed lemon juice regularly is just as beneficial to eating the fruit.
3. Drink lots of water.
One of the best ways to prevent kidney stones naturally is to drink lots of water, especially if you exercise a lot or have a history of cystine stones. If you do not drink enough water, your urine will become more concentrated and less likely to dissolve urine salts that can cause stones. The colour of your urine is an indicator of whether you are hydrated or not. A clear or pale yellow colour means you are hydrated. If it’s too yellow or too dark, that means you need to drink more water.
4. Get plenty of calcium.
Most people are under the impression that avoiding calcium is the solution to preventing calcium oxalate stones. But this is not true. In fact, a diet low in calcium can increase the chances of kidney stones. However, it is recommended to get your daily calcium intake from foods like low-fat milk, low-fat cheese, dairy products, rather than supplements as supplements may increase your risk of stones
5. Try herbal remedies
Herbal concoctions such as basil juice, dandelion juice, wheatgrass juice, etc are well-known remedies for treating kidney stones for ages. These herbal remedies are known to help break stones or reduce the size of existing stones, allowing them to pass more easily. Some herbs are also known to prevent kidney stones formation altogether!
Speaking of herbal goodness, Preserva’s Ayurveda-based Nephrogold Tablets and Daily Detox Tea are the perfect supplements for preventing kidney stones formation as well as reducing the risk of kidney diseases, and improving overall renal health naturally. They are made using various herbal ingredients best known for their potent medicinal properties. They are 100% vegetarian and clinically tested for safety and quality, making them completely safe for consumption.
Disclaimer- This article is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your healthcare provider in case of any health complications