Within the past two weeks more than one person has asked me about kidney stones. Heredity plays a bit part in dealing with them. Preventing a painful kidney stone may mean changing what you eat and drink.
More than one kind of mineral congregates in the kidney. Usually the type cannot be determined until it starts to move and excruciatingly travels to exit. In general most of these culprits are calcium oxalate stones.
In the past it was believed that drinking too much milk increased the risk for passing a painful stone, assuming that it was a calcium oxalate stone. On the contrary, studies have now revealed that there needs to be a balance between too much calcium and not enough. Too little calcium is usually the case.
No matter the origin of the dreadful discomfort, consuming adequate fluids to increase urine volume is essential. Divide your day into thirds and drink at least 32 ounces every 6 to 8 hours. Any kind of liquid counts as fluid. Be cautious with coffee, tea and fruit juices because these can contain the stone forming ingredient, oxalate. Too much increases the likelihood of rocks in your renal system.
During the summer months people sweat more and more fluids are required. According to the Mayo clinic there are more kidney stones in the summer due to the heat, humidity and lack of proper hydration.
Kidney stones aren’t really like smooth round river rocks. They resemble crystals with sharp edges and uneven sides. How many ways can a person say, “Ouch” as they pass through a small tender urinary tract?
Too little calcium intake is a risk factor for stones because there is not enough calcium running through the digestive track to bind with the oxalate from other foods and drinks to prevent absorption. This can lead to high urine oxalate and high risk.
Too much calcium causes an excessive amount in the urine. Finding the right balance is important. Most adults require between 1,000 to 1,500 mg of calcium daily. This need is easily met by foods and drinks alone. Supplements are needed only if you aren’t able to get enough from the diet.
Tips for obtaining the right amount of calcium include dairy products. Calcium fortified foods and beverages can be consumed. Not all yogurts have substantial calcium contents. Check the label for at least 200 mg of calcium per serving.
Ice cream contains calcium but comparatively it is very low. Some cheeses are equal to milk and others are minimal. The softer and more fat in a cheese, the less calcium. Fortified soy and nut milks are excellent choices but the important term is “Fortified”; nut milks usually are poor sources of calcium.
Adding any kind of daily fruit and vegetable makes a diet healthier. Some increase the oxalates absorbed. Rhubarb, beets, okra, spinach, sweet potatoes, nuts, coffee, tea, chocolate and soy products are rich in oxalates. Do not eliminate these from your meal plan, eat only one serving a day.
Renal calculi, AKA kidney stones, are not for the fainthearted. Avoid them if you can.
Bobbie Randall is a registered, licensed dietitian, certified diabetes educator in Wooster, Ohio. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.