You may not think a lot about your kidney health. But, these organs have the important role of removing waste and extra water, maintaining your body’s electrolyte balance, and producing hormones that control blood pressure and stimulate red blood cell production.
Because many compounds pass through the kidneys, small, hard mineral deposits can form and cause severe pain when they travel through the urinary tract. Approximately one in 10 people will experience a kidney stone in their lifetime.
The team at Buschemeyer Urology sees many patients with kidney stones, and although the stones rarely cause long-term health problems, they are quite disruptive to your quality of life. Simple lifestyle strategies and healthy habits can help you safeguard your kidney health and free yourself from the agony of a kidney stone.
While there’s no guarantee that you’ll never experience a kidney stone, experienced urologist W. Cooper Buschemeyer III, MD, recommends the following proactive steps to reduce your risk of suffering one in the future.
Step 1: Stay hydrated
One of the most effective ways to prevent kidney stones is to stay properly hydrated. Make it a priority to drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day. This helps dilute urine and prevents the concentration of minerals that can form stones.
While there’s no magic amount, about eight glasses of water a day is usually a good goal. When it’s hot, or you engage in intense physical activity, drink even more. Coffee and tea can be part of your total hydration count, but water is the best choice.
You want your urine to look nearly clear, like pale lemonade.
Step 2: Follow a healthy, balanced diet
A healthy diet plays a crucial role in kidney stone prevention. Consume a balance of animal and plant protein (legumes and nuts), low-fat dairy, fresh vegetables and fruits, and whole grains.
You may also avoid certain foods if you’re prone to kidney stones. Limit your consumption of foods high in oxalate, such as spinach, rhubarb, beets, and chocolate. Reduce your sodium intake by avoiding processed and packaged foods, as high sodium levels can increase the risk of calcium-based kidney stones.
Step 3: Get regular physical activity
Leading an active lifestyle benefits your overall health and can help prevent kidney stones. Engaging in regular physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of obesity, a factor that increases the likelihood of kidney stones. Exercise also promotes better blood circulation and can help prevent the crystallization of minerals in the kidneys.
Step 4: Monitor your calcium intake
Consuming an appropriate amount of dietary calcium can help prevent certain kidney stones. Calcium binds with oxalate in the intestines, reducing the amount of oxalate that gets into the urine and lowering the risk of calcium oxalate stone formation. Calcium oxalate stones are the most common type of stone.
Focus on getting calcium from food sources rather than relying solely on supplements. Include calcium-rich foods like milk, yogurt, cheese, and leafy green vegetables in your diet while avoiding excessive consumption of calcium supplements, particularly in high doses.
Take proactive steps to prevent kidney stones and manage your kidney health. If you need more tips or are concerned about stone production, contact the Buschemeyer Urology team at the Conroe, Willis, or The Woodlands, Texas, offices. Call today or use this website to set up your consultation.