The 5 Best Ways to Prevent Kidney Stones

When certain chemicals become concentrated in urine, they coalesce into crystals. The crystals then grow into larger mineral deposits called kidney stones. Most kidney stones form when calcium combines with either phosphorous or oxalate, but some form from uric acid, a byproduct of protein metabolism. Once formed, kidney stones can make their way through the urinary tract and pass from the body without problems. At other times, a stone will get stuck somewhere, block urine flow and cause intense pain.

Growing concern

Kidney stones are a rising concern. In fact, one in ten people will have kidney stones during their lifetime. Currently, up to 12% of Americans have stones and those who have had one are 50% more likely to get another within the next 10 years if no preventive measures are taken.

The passing of kidney stones is often characterized by agonizing and intolerable pain that comes in waves as the stones move through the urinary tract and out of the body. The pain may occur on one side of your back or abdomen, or it may radiate to your groin and belly area. While the severity of the pain does not necessarily relate to the size of the stone, larger stones tend to be more painful than smaller ones.

What are the 5 best ways to prevent kidney stones?

1. Drink plenty of fluids.

When you pass a lot of urine every day, you have a lower risk of developing kidney stones. The more you urinate, the lower the chance of stone-causing minerals settling and combining in your kidneys and urinary tract. Drink plenty of water to ensure you urinate up to 2 liters of urine daily. You will need roughly eight 8-ounce cups of water to achieve that. Orange juice and lemonade are also good because the citrate they contain helps prevent stone formation.

If have a history of cystine stones, engage in heavy exercise or just sweat a lot, you should drink even more water. Demanding workouts increase water loss through sweating and reduce urine output, so keep your body hydrated during and after exercise. You can tell if you are properly hydrated by the color of your urine. A clear to pale yellow urine means proper hydration while a dark color indicates a need for more fluids.

2. Increase your calcium intake.

Calcium oxalate stones are the most common kidney stones. But that does not mean you should avoid calcium-rich foods—actually the opposite is true. A low-calcium diet increases the risk of stones and osteoporosis. A calcium deficiency allows oxalate levels in urine to rise, triggering the formation of stones.

A good approach is to enhance your daily intake of calcium according your age. For instance, if you are a man 50 years or older, you need 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day, together with 800 to 1,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D to help with calcium absorption.

Calcium-rich foods include cheese, milk, and yogurt. Avoid calcium supplements as they may increase your risk of kidney stones; however, you can reduce that risk by taking supplements with your meals. It is always a good idea to speak with your doctor when considering supplements and dietary changes.

3. Eat fewer oxalate-rich foods.

Oxalate is a natural compound found in some foods. Since it binds with calcium in urine to form kidney stones, reducing oxalate-rich foods helps prevent stones from forming. Examples of foods rich in oxalate are chocolate, spinach, coffee, peanuts, beets, rhubarb, sweet potatoes, beets and wheat bran. Colas should also be avoided because they are rich in phosphate.

If you have suffered from kidney stones, your doctor may recommend you avoid these foods or consume them in smaller quantities. However, you can also eat oxalate-rich foods alongside calcium-rich foods as an alternative to avoiding them. Calcium and oxalate can bind together to actually reduce the risk of kidney stones.

4. Reduce your sodium intake.

When your diet is high in sodium, the amount of calcium in your urine increases. Sodium prevents calcium re-absorption from urine to blood, which in turn leads to high calcium in urine that may cause kidney stones. Reducing sodium intake lowers the amount of calcium in your urine.

The recommended daily limit of total sodium intake is 2,300 mg. But if sodium has contributed to your kidney stones in the past, you should reduce intake to 1,500 mg per day. Your doctor may advise that lowering sodium benefits your blood pressure as well. It is easier to lower sodium intake by avoiding foods such as:

  • Processed foods, like crackers and chips
  • Canned vegetables
  • Canned soups
  • Condiments
  • Lunch meat
  • Foods containing sodium nitrate, monosodium glutamate, or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)

5. Limit intake of animal proteins.

Animal proteins not only raise the amount of uric acid in your body, they also increase body acid levels. Increased urine acidity promotes the formation of both uric acid and calcium oxalate stones.

Need help dealing with kidney stones?

St Pete Urology brings together a multidisciplinary team of experts in urology, nephrology and nutrition to offer a single point of care for patients with acute or recurrent kidney stones. We treat kidney stones using the latest minimally-invasive and nonsurgical procedures, including ureteroscopy, extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy and percutaneous nephrolithotomy. We also have advanced tools such as Holmium lasers and specialized ultrasound and ultrasonic equipment.

At St Pete Urology, we don’t just treat kidney stones. We aim to prevent their recurrence. Our focus is on the overall health of our patients with the goal of making their first kidney stone incident their last. For more information on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of kidney stones, visit the St Pete Urology website.

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7 Tips for Keeping a Healthy Prostate

Prostate problems are common in men over 40. The prostate, a tiny walnut-sized gland found only in males, surrounds the urethra and produces a thick, white fluid that mixes with sperm to form semen. Though smaller early in life, the gland grows bigger with age and can sometimes become enlarged or swollen by conditions such as prostate enlargement, prostatitis or prostate cancer.

All men, no matter their age, can find themselves dealing with a prostate issue, which is why every man should be concerned about his prostate health. Fortunately, there are easy ways to prevent or reduce the risk of developing prostate health problems.

Here are 7 tips for keeping your prostate healthy:

1. Eat more fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are great sources of anti-inflammatory and anticancer compounds, such as polyphenols, antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and fiber. Plants that boost prostate health are plentiful and include favorites such as tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, pink grapefruits, watermelons, papaya and guava. Equally powerful are green leafy vegetables like spinach, lettuce, spring mix and kale which contain cancer-killing ingredients such as folic acid, vitamin D, turmeric and curcumin. Be sure to add fruits and vegetables to your everyday meals to boost your prostate health!

2. Eat more plant proteins and cut down on animal fat

You should avoid diets that are high in animal fat, including dairy products and red meat. Heavy consumption of red meat increases your risk of prostate cancer. So go for lean proteins, such as fish and chicken, but avoid grilled meat since grilling produces carcinogens that can inflame your prostate. Instead try baking, steaming, or broiling your meat.

High animal fat intake reduces antioxidant production in the body. And since it is the antioxidants that help to maintain a healthy prostate, excess fat diminishes prostate health. A good option for a healthy prostate is fish, which contains omega-3 acids that minimize the risk of prostate problems. Fish such as tuna, herring or salmon are good choices, but if fish is not your thing, then walnuts and flaxseed can be great sources of omega-3 acids.

Ideally, you should go for whole, natural foods that provide a lot of fiber. Soy is also good for your prostate and you can get it through sources like soy nuts, soy flour or tofu. Likewise, you should eat foods rich in selenium such as wheat germ, tuna, beef liver, eggs, sunflower, cashews, sesame seeds, mushrooms, onions, garlic and kidneys. Selenium boosts prostate health and minimizes the risk of prostate cancer.

3. Achieve a healthy weight

Obesity has been associated with various prostate health issues, including prostate cancer. If you are overweight, cutting back your weight, particularly abdominal fat, reduces the risk of BPH. In fact, if you desire to shrink your prostate size and get relief from annoying urinary symptoms, weight loss is valuable. Weight loss also helps reduce the risk of prostate cancer and relieves prostatitis.

4. Regular exercise

Moderate or vigorous activity minimizes the risk of BPH, urinary tract symptoms and prostatitis. Regular exercise also decreases stress, releases tension, improves immune function and maintains healthy hormone levels, all of which are important for a healthy prostate.

Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate or intense physical activity every day. Try walking, swimming, running or bicycling, and make sure your exercise routine is not boring by varying your activities and even inviting friends to join you.

5. Drink tea

Both green tea and hibiscus tea contain potent antioxidants. Studies show that regular intake of tea helps with prostatitis, BPH and prostate cancer. Green tea also slows down the growth of aggressive prostate cancer.

Make sure to choose caffeine free sources of tea since caffeine irritates both the prostate and bladder and worsens symptoms of prostatitis. As a measure to cut down on caffeine intake, make sure to reduce energy drinks, coffee and soda.

Like tea, water is also great for the prostate. Drinking plenty of water will help you remain hydrated and enjoy normal prostate function. Make sure to drink at least 8 glasses of water every day, and to increase water intake during and after exercise.

6. Avoid smoking

Smoking affects every cell in your body. In fact, when cigarettes are burned, they are complete carcinogens. While smoking has less effect on low-grade or benign prostate cancer, it increases the risk of fatal prostate cancer. The heaviest smokers have 24-30 percent higher risk of death from prostate cancer than non-smokers. Smoking also increases the risk of prostate cancer progress after diagnosis.

Studies also show that smoking indirectly promotes benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and increases prostate inflammation. Apart from smoking, alcohol use and inadequate sleep may adversely affect your prostate health. Also, a healthy sex life is good for your prostate.

7. Talk to your doctor

Do you have family history of prostate cancer? Let your doctor know. Remember that having a father or brother who has had prostate cancer more than doubles your risk of developing the disease. Speak with your doctor about your risk of prostate issues and explore the medical screening tests you should undergo as you age, follow dietary recommendations and be alert to any risk factors.
If you intend to begin a new exercise program, make sure to inform your urologist about it. Your doctor should know if you are experiencing symptoms such as:

  • Discomfort or pain anywhere in your rectal or pelvic area
  • Blood in your urine or semen
  • Difficulty or pain when urinating

Are you or your loved one suffering from a prostate problem? St Pete Urology offers specialty urology services in a state-of-the-art facility and surgery center in St. Petersburg, Florida. We provide the latest innovations in surgical techniques and medical technology, delivering comprehensive care to those with urologic conditions. For more information about the prostate gland, BPH and prostate cancer, visit the St Pete Urology website.

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