STEPS YOU CAN TAKE Now TO HELP PREVENT KIDNEY STONES in the future
Dr. Davalos stresses the importance of education as well as lifestyle changes to help individuals prevent kidney stones from recurring. In addition to the metabolic evaluation and close monitoring, Dr. Davalos recommends the following tips and lifestyle/diet changes to help prevent kidney stones from returning:
- Stay well hydrated. The single most important thing you can do if you are forming kidney stones is to increase your fluid intake. Drink enough fluids (lemon water is best) to make 2L or about 1/2 gallon of urine a day. Notice the color of your urine; strive to have your urine be colorless, which means you are taking in an adequate amount of fluid. Depending on the heat and your level of activity, drink about ten 10-ounce glasses of fluid per day. Drink more in the summer months when you're apt to lose more water through sweat. Lemonade made with real lemons has citrate which can be good for the prevention of kidney stones.
- Cut the salt. Limit the amount of sodium in your diet. The recommended daily allowance of sodium is 2,000 to 2,500 mg/day (about one teaspoon), yet the average American diet takes in about 5,000 mg of sodium a day. Don't add salt to food and take the salt shaker off the table to avoid temptation. Limit eating out and processed foods which also contribute to higher sodium intake. Decreasing urinary sodium also decreases urinary calcium, which are leading culprits in kidney stone formation.
- Moderate calcium intake. If you have a history of stone formation, your doctor may recommend a moderate intake of calcium - about 800-1,200 mg/day (2 to 3 servings). Calcium, however, is necessary in the diet. Completely eliminating calcium is not advisable and can actually lead to more kidney stones. “Normal” calcium intake helps avoid over-absorption of oxalate and allows for healthy bone maintenance.
- Limit the protein. Your doctor may also recommend that you cut down on your protein intake, especially animal-based protein (beef, chicken, pork and/or fish). High protein diets can increase the rate of kidney stone formation and can be equally unhealthy for your heart.
- Avoid heavy intake of oxalate. Some stone producers should avoid heavy intake of oxalate-rich foods including greens like spinach, kale, mustard and collard greens as well as strawberries, rhubarb, chocolate, tea and nuts. Excessive doses of vitamin C can also produce surges in urinary oxalate levels and should be avoided. If you are going to eat oxalate-rich foods, have calcium with these foods at the same meal.
- Add more citrate to your diet. Citrate inhibits kidney stone formation. Increase your intake of potassium-rich citrus foods such as lemons, oranges and grapefruits, both as the whole fruit and as juice.