The incidence of kidney stones is on a rise. Stones are no longer restricted to older individual and adults but, even young college students are being affected by it. The situation is truly quite alarming.
Stones are more common in men than women. A variety of reasons can predispose you to the risk of developing kidney stones. The most leading causes are – obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney diseases. Some dietary factors may also increase the risk of stone formation such as – low fluid intake, low calcium diet, high salt and high protein intake.
The treatment for kidney stone depends on their size and location in the kidney. Irrespective of the mode of treatment, some dietary changes are required. These dietary habits will help you remove the stone and prevent the recurrence of the stones. Any person, who has had a kidney stone, is at a risk of having the stone/s again. Hence, it is very important to (i) prevent the formation of stones and (ii) in case, you have stones then, get rid of the existing stones and prevent recurrence of the same.
For immediate treatment and long-term prevention of formation of stones, you need to follow some simple habits on a regular basis. Here, in this article, we will lay emphasis on how diet can help you in the treatment.
What should I do to get rid of the stones and prevent recurrence?
Increase your fluid intake – Drink at least 3 to 3.5 L of fluid every day. What type of fluid? We consume fluids in different forms – water, juices, soups, milk, tea, coffee, milkshakes and so on. Now, there are two issues here. Firstly, some of these fluids like juices, soups can alter the pH of the urine (i.e. they may make it either acidic or alkaline). This may affect the process of stone formation. For instance – acidic (low) pH favours the formation of calcium oxalate, uric acid stones while alkaline (high) pH helps in the formation of calcium phosphorus stones. We can decide which type of fluids to take if we know the type of stones present in the kidney. However, you won’t know the composition of the stone unless it is out of your body. The second issue of concern is that, if we consume different type of fluids then, how do we keep track of the quantity consumed? So, what do we do?
The best solution to both these issues is – to consume a neutral fluid and the best being – water.
Sounds easy!!!! May not be for all. Most of us won’t even know how many litres of water we drink every day. And, trust me, most of us don’t drink more than 1 to 1.5 L/d.
So how to make sure that you drink the quota of 3 to 3.5 L of water every day?
Every morning, fill up 4 bottles (of 1 L capacity) with drinking water. If you are a working professional, distribute these 4 bottles between your home and workplace depending on how much time you spend at either places. For instance, suppose I spend 2 hours in travelling, 8 – 10 hours at office and the remaining time at home. I would carry a 1 L bottle for my travel. I would keep 2 bottles at my office (and fill it up as soon as I reach) and one bottle for home (almost 6 – 8 hours would be utilized for sleeping).
The next step is to drink water. Unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as it sounds. In our busy schedule, we are bound to forget it. Hence, have reminders in place. In this era of technology, this shouldn’t be difficult. Set a reminder either on your phone or use an app; whichever is convenient. Drink either ½ glass every 30 mins or 1 glass every hour. Your reminder should say – ‘Drink water NOW’. Make sure you finish drinking from all the four bottles at the end of the day.
Fallout of this would be more visits to the washroom. But this is what we wanted! Remember, there is no need to be embarrassed. If anyone ridicules you, please ignore them. If you are a student or an intern, share your problem with your teacher/ superior (if required).
Take steps to lose weight, if you are overweight or obese
Calcium – It’s often believed that people consuming a high calcium diet may end up developing kidney stones. However, this is incorrect. You need to meet your body’s calcium requirements. On an average, adults and children need to consume a minimum of 3 servings of low-fat milk and milk products to meet this requirement. Other good sources of calcium are – ragi (finger millet) and dried fish (not more than twice a week). Green leafy vegetables and nuts are also decent sources of calcium; but are not advisable in this condition. It’s always better to meet your calcium requirements through foods rather than supplements.
Oxalates – You need to limit the intake of foods rich in oxalates. These include – green leafy vegetables, grapes, tea, chocolates, cocoa, coffee, cola drinks, beef, cashewnuts, beetroot, nuts, poppy seeds, mustard, sesame seeds, sweet potato, potato and yam.
Foods with High Oxalate Content
Sodium/ Salt – You also need to go low on sodium and salt intake. Avoid all processed foods such as – biscuits, bread, buns, salted nuts, wafers, instant foods (soups, pasta, noodles), ready-to-eat foods, pickles, cheese, salted butter, sauces, ketchups, farsan, namkeen and so on. Avoid adding extra salt to your food while eating. You can reduce the salt intake by adding salt only to your vegetable and dal Avoid adding salt while cooking rice or making the dough for rotis.
Besides this, your doctor may prescribe certain medications which need to be taken regularly. Remember all the above given diet-related tips need to be followed for a lifetime. Once you have got rid of the stones, you may relax some of the above things. Only SOME. Like there are no short cuts for success, there are no short cuts for good health too!!!