Urolithiasis can affect all age groups - from newborns to the elderly. What healthy habits should you stick to in order to protect your kidneys from stones?

Urolithiasis (urolithiasis) is a disease associated with the formation of stones in the kidneys and/or other organs of the urinary system. The type of urinary stones depends, as a rule, on the age of the patient. In older people, uric acid stones predominate. More than 60% of the stones are mixed in composition. Urinary stones almost always form in the kidneys, in the ureter. In the bladder, they are usually of secondary type, that is, those descended from the kidney. Stones can be either small (up to 3 mm - sand in the kidneys) or large (up to 15 cm). In medicine, cases are described when stones weighed several kilograms.  

When stones accumulate in the kidneys, the pain becomes unbearable and permanent. Small stones can be excreted in the urine without causing much discomfort. Remaining stones increase in size, get stuck in the urinary tract and interfere with urine passage. Large stones can seriously damage the urinary tract. That is why the prevention of this problem is very important for health. What healthy habits should you stick to in order to protect your kidneys from stones?

1. Drink enough water

The risk of kidney stones is twice as high among people who do not drink enough water per day. The fluid helps the kidneys to clear the body of metabolic waste. If they are not removed in a timely manner, they crystallize and turn into stones.
The color of urine can indicate a lack of fluid in the body. It is usually dark yellow in the morning due to the accumulation of waste products that are generated during the night. But if the dark shade persists throughout the day, this indicates that the body does not have enough water. The average amount of liquid consumed should be 8-10 glasses. This volume, in addition to water, may include other drinks and liquid products.
Water with lemon juice is very useful. It helps to increase the amount of citric acid in the urine, which in turn prevents calcium from forming an insoluble salt with oxalic acid.
However, it is important not to overdo it with a water diet, as it may result in kidney impairment.

2. Eat foods rich in calcium

Reducing calcium in the diet leads to an increase in the amount of oxalates (esters and salts of oxalic acid) in the body, which gradually causes urolithiasis. In the intestines, calcium binds to oxalates preventing their absorption into the bloodstream and penetration into the kidneys. According to studies, calcium intake in food contributed to a decrease in the risk of kidney stones formation, at the same time, dietary supplements with calcium, on the contrary, increased the risk of urolithiasis.For this reason, it is recommended not to use calcium supplements, but foods rich in calcium (milk, cottage cheese, kefir, sesame, whole grain wheat products, etc.). Sunbathing in the morning (about 15 minutes a day) is also helpful to help the body produce vitamin D, which is needed for calcium absorption.

3. Avoid a diet rich in oxalate

Regular and abundant consumption of oxalate-containing foods also increases the risk of urolithiasis. Oxalates prevent the absorption of calcium in the body, which leads to the formation of calcium oxalates, later turning into stones. Be wary of diets rich in oxalate foods such as sorrel, spinach, rhubarb, kale, celery, chard, beets, chocolate, strawberries, etc. Excessive intake of vitamin C is also dangerous - it accumulates and is converted into oxalates.

4. Limit salt in your diet

Sodium-rich foods contribute to the accumulation of calcium in the urine and the formation of kidney stones. Calcium increases the amount of urinary protein, which leads to kidney disorders.
In addition, excessive amounts of sodium in the body make the kidneys work especially intensively. As a result, they wear out quickly, becoming more vulnerable to disease. As a prevention of urolithiasis, diets low in salt are suitable: no more than 5 g per day, which is about 1 teaspoon. Instead of ordinary table salt, it is better to use sea salt, as well as spices and aromatic herbs. By the way, the more salt a person consumes, the more calcium is excreted from his bones. 

5. Eat less sugar and sweeteners

Foods high in sugar and fructose create a favorable environment for the formation of kidney stones. So, excessive consumption of sugar leads to an imbalance of minerals in the body, interfering with the absorption of calcium and magnesium. In some cases, fructose can be metabolized to oxalate. Industrial sweeteners are also harmful in that they reduce kidney function. It is best to add natural honey or stevia to tea and coffee.

6. Reduce consumption of red meat

Excessive consumption of red meat is very harmful to the kidneys. An excess of protein increases the metabolic burden on the kidneys and disrupts the nitrogen balance in the body, which is harmful not only to the kidneys, but to the body as a whole. Red meat is high in purines, which stimulate the production of uric acid in the body. This lowers the overall pH of the urine. The high concentration of acid in the urine, in turn, creates a favorable environment for kidney stones formation.

7. Exercise to maintain a healthy weight

Obesity also increases the risk of developing kidney stones, so regular exercise is very helpful in preventing it. 
Physical activity normalizes blood pressure, improves blood microcirculation in the kidneys and generally reduces the risk of chronic kidney disease. Studies of the American Society of Nephrology have shown that regular moderate exercise reduces the risk of many factors associated with kidney stones formation. To do this, it is enough to practice simple workouts (running, walking, cycling, exercising) about 30 minutes five times a week.

8. Avoid carbonated drinks

Excessive consumption of carbonated sugary drinks and soda water increase the risk of urolithiasis. The phosphoric acid found in soda water acidifies the urine and promotes stones formation. Sugary carbonated drinks also increase the risk of developing chronic kidney disease. 

9. Avoid fluoridated water

Drinking fluoridated water is a highly undesirable product for the kidneys. Regular consumption of water with excessive amounts of fluoride has been proven to cause the formation of kidney stones. One of the signs that a person is consuming too much fluoride is the discoloration of tooth enamel or the appearance of characteristic spots on it, which is attributed to a disease known as dental fluorosis. It is best to drink bottled, settled and boiled water or use systems for purification of water from fluorine.

10. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables

For the prevention of kidney stones, diets with an emphasis on fruits and vegetables are useful. It is recommended to eat at least five fruit and vegetable servings daily. Fruits and vegetables rich in magnesium, fiber, potassium, and antioxidants will help protect the kidneys from stone buildup. 

11. Stop smoking

Cigarettes are among the causes of reduced blood flow throughout the body, including the kidneys. The less blood enters the kidneys, the worse they work.Do not delay your visit to the doctor if you experience severe or sharp pain in the lower back, or if you have difficulty urinating.


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