As the summer season approaches, the masses look for ways to keep themselves hydrated and avoid heatstroke. However, with busy schedules and overworked routines, most people fail to take proper care of their health. In these circumstances, one very common issue that arises is that of kidney stones.
Kidneys remove the wasteful substances and fluid from our blood and make urine- an excretory product. They achieve this task with the help of nephrons. Nephrons are the structural and functional components of the kidney. At times, when there is an excess of certain wasteful compounds, they clump together to form stones. Kidney stones are scientifically called nephrolithiasis. These are tiny deposits that build up with time. Every year, kidney stone problems cause at least half a million people to visit hospitals. Estimations show that one in ten people might have a kidney stone at some point during their lifetime .
How Do They Form?
Urine contains a variety of salts and minerals. When the amount of these two substances increases, it can lead to the formation of stones or calculi. There are many different kinds of kidney stones. Calcium stones are the most commonly found ones. They can either be calcium oxalate or calcium phosphate.
The second most common form of stones in the body is uric acid stones. Uric acid is a waste product in the body. The problem with this substance is that it does not dissolve in acidic urine and leads to the formation of stones. Acidic urine is present in people who are either obese, have type 2 diabetes, or have gout. People who eat a lot of animal protein and neglect intake of fruits and vegetables also tend to have acidic urine.
Recognizing the Symptoms
Kidney stones usually cause sharp pain in the back and lower abdominal region. The person might feel the need to urinate frequently or feel a burning sensation during urination. The urine takes a darker hue and might even turn red due to the presence of blood. A person with kidney stones might also feel nauseous from time to time .
Easiest Ways to Prevent Kidney Stones Formation
- Hydration- The Key Factor
Drinking sufficient water leads to the dilution of salts and minerals in the urine. This prevents stones from forming. Water intake should especially be increased in the summer season and post-workout since the body loses water through sweat.
- Minimize Salt Consumption
To minimize the formation of calcium stones, sodium chloride (salt) intake needs to be reduced. When there is excessive salt passing in the urine, it stops calcium from reabsorption into the blood from the urine. Some of the foods that have high salt content and should be consumed with restraint include canned foods, cheese, baked goods, pickles, and salty snacks.
- Incorporate Fruits and Vegetables in Your Diet
Fruits and vegetables contain high content of fiber, citrate, antioxidants, magnesium, and potassium which can help prevent the formation of stones .
- Avoid Oxalate Rich Stone-Forming Foods
Foods and drinks that are known to contain the highest levels of oxalates include beets, beans, nuts, tea, peanuts, chocolate, rhubarb, wheat bran, and spinach. These must be strictly avoided .
- Say No to Animal Protein
Consumption of animal protein has been correlated with the formation of kidney stones. A study conducted by Tracy and colleagues compared the stone-forming propensity of three kinds of animal protein- chicken, fish, and beef. Beef was found to have the highest effect relatively. The study concluded that people with kidney stones should avoid all kinds of animal protein .
Alternatively, some plant-based foods that have high protein content include soy foods, tofu, sunflower seeds, walnuts, almonds, and almond butter .
One Word Solution to the Problem of Kidney Stones – Citrate!
Citrate is a compound found in citrus fruits. It can be consumed naturally through lemons, limes, grapefruit juice, orange, and pineapple. It is known to inhibit the formation of kidney stones since it prevents the crystallization of the salts .
Scientific studies have revealed with empirical data that there is an increased formation of kidney stones in adults whose urinary citrate excretion is less than 320 mg each day. There are multiple mechanisms through which citrate plays its protective role. It causes a reduction in the supersaturation of calcium salts in urine by making soluble complexes with calcium ions. Thus crystal growth and aggregation are prevented.
Citrate also causes an increment in the activity of some macromolecules that are present in the urine. This obstructs the aggregation of calcium oxalate .
Transparent Hands & Renal Health
Here at Transparent Hands, we assist patients with surgical treatment for kidney stones. The surgeon can decide on an invasive or non-invasive mode of treatment depending upon the size of stones and the condition of the patient.
Conclusion – Prevention is Always Better than Cure
Most health issues that get out of hand, later on, can usually be resolved with minor dietary amendments. What masses need to understand is that if they put in a little effort in opting for and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, they can save themselves from endless hospital visits and expensive medical treatments later on in life. The one key piece of advice that we would end this blog on is- hydrate! You will not regret it.
 National Kidney Foundation, “Kidney stones – Symptoms, causes, types, and treatment .” [Online]. Available: https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/kidneystones. [Accessed: 16-Jun-2021].
 Urology Care Foundation, “Kidney Stones: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment .” [Online]. Available: https://www.urologyhealth.org/urology-a-z/k/kidney-stones. [Accessed: 16-Jun-2021].
 Harvard Health, “5 steps for preventing kidney stones .” [Online]. Available: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/5-steps-for-preventing-kidney-stones-201310046721. [Accessed: 16-Jun-2021].
 C. R. Tracy et al., “Animal protein and the risk of kidney stones: A comparative metabolic study of animal protein sources,” J. Urol., vol. 192, no. 1, pp. 137–141, 2014.
 N. NIDDK, “Eating, Diet, & Nutrition for Kidney Stones .” [Online]. Available: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/kidney-stones/eating-diet-nutrition. [Accessed: 17-Jun-2021].
 J. M. Zuckerman and D. G. Assimos, “Hypocitraturia: pathophysiology and medical management.,” Rev. Urol., vol. 11, no. 3, pp. 134–44, 2009.
 F. V. Renata Caudarella, “Urinary citrate and renal stone disease: the preventive role of alkali citrate treatment ,” Arch. Ital. di Urol. e Androl., Sep. 2009.