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Avoid kidney stones

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Drink to health Adequate intake of water can fight dehydration
Drink to health Adequate intake of water can fight dehydration

Kidney stones can be avoided by following a few dietary rules

Kidney stones are of many types and have many causes; treatment depends on the size, nature and cause of the stones. Calcium and oxalate stones are the most common varieties. Changes in the daily intake of sodium, protein, calcium, oxalate and fluid will slow stone formation. Dietary restrictions slow the formation but do not cure kidney stones.

Kidney stones flourish in concentrated urine. Preventing dehydration and drinking at least 3-4 litres of water per day will reduce stone formation. Water intake should be at regular intervals. A glass of water every 90 minutes is better than forcing down a litre of water every six hours. Prevent dehydration during the night by drinking two glasses of water at bedtime.

Limiting daily sodium intake to 2-3 grams (around 6 grams of common salt) will retard formation of calcium stones. Although this restriction sounds harsh, you should not hesitate to force it on your entire family - even if they don’t have kidney stones. This is because 6 grams is the maximum allowed even for healthy people, and limiting salt intake is important for preventing and treating hypertension.

Calcium is the most important nutrient for bones. However, restricting intake may be necessary in case of calcium stones. Calcium-rich foods, calcium supplements, and Vitamin D supplements are important targets of restriction. This increases the risk of osteoporosis, especially in postmenopausal women - which is why calcium restriction is best prescribed and managed by a physician.

Oxalate stones also contain calcium and the above restraints apply here. In addition, one should limit intake of oxalate-rich foods: peanuts, tea, coffee, tomatoes, strawberries, chocolates, grapes, oranges, tofu, sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens and beer on the tap. It is not necessary to eliminate these foods. For example, around 250 ml of coffee per day is safe in most people. Consult a dietician or physician on the degree of restriction for the above foods.

Excess of dietary protein, especially from meat, eggs, fish and nuts, increases formation of certain stones. In addition, wastes from protein require more water for elimination, and urine tends to be concentrated following a protein-rich meal.

People with kidney stones and on dietary restraints require regular monitoring of kidney function, stone size and number, and the effects of nutrient restriction.

RAJIV. M

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