Preventing Kidney Stones

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PREVENTING KIDNEY STONES

Some people form crystals of salt and minerals in their kidneys that can form kidney stones. Is there anything you can do to prevent them?

Sure. First thing is to drink lots of fluid. Regardless of the kind of stone you form, liquids dilute the urine and help prevent high concentrations of salts and minerals.

What is the best liquid to drink? Water.

How much do you need to drink? That depends on how much you pass. You need to pass two quarts of urine a day. But you may need to drink much more than that to pass the required amount. Urinate several times a day into a container to see how much you are passing.

Suppose you've been working in your garden in the sun all day? Two gallons might be what you need to drink.

Or, maybe you jog and perspire a lot. Ninety-two percent of kidney stones are made of calcium or calcium products. Almost all of the calcium in most peoples' diets come from dairy products -- milk, cheese, butter and yogurt. You may want to eliminate or restrict intake of some of these foods.

You'll also want to eliminate any antacids or medicines that contain calcium. Check labels.

People who've had calcium oxalate kidney stones, aren't excreting oxalates properly. They would want to restrict, but not eliminate completely, their consumption of oxyalate-rich foods. Those include beans, beets, blueberries,, chocolate, grapes, green peppers, parsley, spinach, strawberries, summer squash and tea.

If you've passed a stone, take it to your health care practitioner and have it analyzed. Finding out what kind of stone it is will help you know which foods to restrict and which to eat.

Swedish researchers found that a daily supplement of magnesium curtailed stone formation by almost 90 percent in people who had already passed an oxalate stone. Some magnesium-rich foods are: brown rice, apples, avocados, bananas, figs, garlic, kelp, lima beans, millet, nuts, peaches, blackeyed peas, sesame seeds, tofu, green leafy vegetables, and whole grains.

Pyridoxine, one of the B-vitamins, can also lower the amount of oxalate in the urine. Some good food sources of this vitamin are: carrots, sunflower seeds, walnuts, wheat germ, peas, fish, and brewer's yeast. Avocados, bananas, beans, blackstrap molasses, brown rice and other whole grains, cabbage and cantaloupe also have some pyridoxine in them.

It doesn't matter what kind of kidney stone you may be forming, vitamin A-rich foods are good for you. Vitamin A keeps the lining of your urinary tract in shape and helps discourage the formation of future stones. Half a cup of sweet potatoes or carrots will give you a good dose. Other foods to eat are: apricots, broccoli, cantaloupes, pumpkins, and winter squash.

Another wellness action to take is to stay active. If you're inactive, you accumulate calcium in your blood-stream. Activity pulls the calcium back into your bones where it belongs. Don't be a couch potato. Instead, take a walk, ride a bike or go to a Yoga class.

There is a direct relationship between kidney stones and the amount of protein you eat. Fish, chicken, beef, cheese, or other protein increases the presence of uric acid, calcium and phosphorus in your urine, increasing the chance of developing stones.

If you take a vitamin C supplement, make sure you don't reglarly take more than 3,000 or 4,000 mg a day. Large amounts of vitamin C can increase the formation of oxalate production. If you do not process oxylates well, it could lead to the formation of stones. Likewise, getting more than 400 units of vitamin D can lead to excess calcium in all parts of the body. So, if you're taking a vitamin D supplement, eating or drinking vitamin D fortified foods and spending a lot of time in the sun, you could be getting too much.

Source: THE DOCTORS BOOK OF HOME REMEDIES, Rodale Press, 1990; PRESCRIPTION FOR NUTRITIONAL HEALING, Balch and Balch, Avery Publishing Group Inc., 1990.

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