Kidney Stones On the Rise

More than half a million people in the U.S. hit the emergency room for relief from the excruciating pain of kidney stones every year, and CNN reports that this number is increasing. The modern diet may play a large role in this spike, and simple dietary changes may be able to protect yourself from painful kidney stones

In most cases, kidney stones pass without causing lasting damage, but the pain during passing can be excruciating. Kidney stones are also sometimes associated with lower back pain, stomach pain, nausea or vomiting, fever and chills. Generally, the larger the stone, the more pain and symptoms it will cause. Sometimes aggressive treatments are needed to clear the stones.  

The No. 1 risk factor for kidney stones is not drinking enough water. If you aren't drinking enough, your urine will have higher concentrations of substances that can precipitate out and form stones. Specifically, stone-forming chemicals include calcium, oxalate, urate, cysteine, xanthine and phosphate. These chemicals should be eliminated in your urine via your kidneys, but if too little liquid is present, they can join together to form a stone.

One important point: Not just any fluid will do to increase your urine output. While water and mineral water were protective, drinking soda is associated with kidney stones, possibly because the phosphorus acid it contains acidifies your urine, which promotes stone formation. 

Drinking water, avoiding soda and minimizing your sugar intake is a great starting point. What else can help reduce your risk of kidney stones? First, make sure you are getting enough magnesium. You will also want to consume calcium-rich foods, but not calcium supplements. It binds with oxalates (from foods) in your intestine, which then prevents both from being absorbed into your blood and later transferred to your kidneys. 

Soybeans and soy-based foods may promote kidney stones in those prone to them, as they may contain high levels of oxalates, which can bind with calcium in your kidney to form kidney stones.

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