If you have ever had one, you know that kidney stones are just the worst. Your back aches, peeing hurts, and you might feel nauseous. Actually, about 1 in 10 people will get a kidney stone in their lifetime, according to the National Kidney Foundation. What is a kidney stone and how can we avoid becoming one of the people who get them?
Contrary to their namesake, kidney stones are actually more like crystals. They form when there isn’t enough water in the body to balance the chemicals being filtered out of your blood. Those dehydrated chemicals bind to each other, becoming hard and sharp.
According to the National Kidney Foundation, the most common stone is one that is formed from a salt called oxalate binding to calcium. The Cleveland Clinic says that even though it is called a “calcium oxalate stone”, increasing the amount of calcium in your diet will actually prevent these stones. This is because the calcium in your digestive tract will neutralize the oxalate salt before it can ever reach the kidneys.
The best kidney stone prevention strategy is to drink 64 ounces, or half a gallon of water daily.. To avoid kidney stones, you should also cut back on foods high in sugar, high fructose corn syrup, acids, and salt. While being at a healthy weight can help prevent kidney stones, weight loss or fat-burning programs that promote an unbalanced diet can actually cause them. For example, protein-rich diets can actually have worse effects on your kidneys.
Content for this segment was created by Hannah Alexander as part of a project for SC301: Foundations of Health Communication, taught by Ms. Clubbs.
Richman, K., O'Bell, J., & Pareek, G. (2014). The Growing Prevalence of Kidney Stones and Opportunities for Prevention. Rhode Island Medical Journal, 97(12), 31-34.