Kidney stones are a common, but exceedingly painful condition that is very much linked to diet. Too much calcium and other minerals can create the conditions for these minerals to form in the kidneys creating the stones that must be later painfully passed out of the body in the urine stream. It only takes one kidney stone to make one keen to prevent the formation of more kidney stones.

In this excerpt from the book The Green Pharmacy Guide to Healing Foods by James A. Duke and Bill Gottlieb, CHC the authors share how to prevent kidney stones through diet changes, and nutritional supplementation.

Real Cause

• Nutritional Deficiencies. Low levels of magnesium and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) can increase the risk of kidney stones. So can low fluid intake. Other nutritional factors linked to an elevated risk of kidney stones include a high-sugar diet and a low intake of fruits and vegetables. Obesity is also a risk factor.

Your kidneys are filters—they pull toxins and other substances out of blood for disposal in the urine. But when some of those substances become too concentrated, they can crystallize and form kidney stones. Oftentimes, the stones just sit there. But if they begin to slide from the kidney into the ureter (the tube connecting the kidney to the bladder), they can cause excruciating pain, usually in the midback on the left or right side, radiating to the front of the body in the pelvic area. Some women say it’s worse than the pain of childbirth.

Preventing the First Stone

Several studies show that there are many ways to decrease your risk of forming a first kidney
stone. Not surprisingly, the recommendations are also good for overall health. (Note: Although
some of this research was done solely with women or solely with men, I think it applies to
both sexes.)
• Reduce fructose. Researchers from Harvard Medical School analyzed diet and health data
from more than 200,000 people and found that those who had the highest intake of fructose—
the sugar found in sodas and other foods with high-fructose corn syrup—had the highest risk of
developing kidney stones. Fructose intake “may increase the urinary excretion of calcium oxalate,
uric acid, and other factors associated with kidney stone risk,” concluded the researchers in the
medical journal Kidney International.
Cut sucrose, too. In another study, the same researchers found that women with the highest intake of sucrose—sugar—had a 31 percent higher risk of stones.
• Eat more whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. These foods are rich in a plant compound called phytate, and the Harvard researchers found that women with the highest intake of
phytate had a 37 percent lower risk of stones. “Dietary phytate may be a new, important, and safe
addition to our options for stone prevention,” they concluded in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
• Drink plenty of fluids. Drinking more fluid of any kind is linked to a 38 percent reduction in
stone risk, reported researchers in the Annals of Internal Medicine. For every eight-ounce daily
serving, the researchers found a 10 percent lower risk with caffeinated coffee, a nine percent lower
risk with decaffeinated coffee, an eight percent lower risk with tea, and a 59 percent lower risk
with wine. “An increase in total fluid intake can reduce the risk of kidney stones,” they concluded.
• Maximize magnesium-rich foods. Men with the highest magnesium intake had a 29 percent lower risk of stones, reported Harvard researchers in the Journal of the American Society of
Nephrology. Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, Swiss chard, and mustard greens are among
the richest sources of magnesium.
• Consider trying the DASH diet. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)
diet is used to treat high blood pressure. It includes eight to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a
day, several servings of low-fat dairy products, and minimal red meat. Research showed that those
who followed a DASH diet—rich in calcium, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C—had up to a
40 percent reduced risk of forming stones, compared with those who didn’t follow the diet. “Consumption of a DASH diet is associated with a marked decrease in kidney stone risk,” concluded
the researchers in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
• Don’t gain weight. Obese men had a 33 percent higher risk of kidney stones than normal-weight men, and obese women had more than double the risk, reported researchers from
Harvard Medical School in the Journal of the American Medical Association. “Obesity and weight
gain increase the risk of kidney stone formation,” they concluded

Real Cure Regimen

If you’ve had one kidney stone, you definitely don’t want another. But 40 percent of people who’ve had a first stone do have another symptom-causing stone within 15 years. Many doctors prescribe potassium citrate, which alkalinizes the urine, making it slightly less likely for stones to form. But the treatment can cause nausea and diarrhea—not exactly ideal for long-term use. The good news: Prevention of a second kidney stone is simple. Take magnesium (200 milligrams to 400 milligrams daily) and vitamin B6 (10 milligrams to 25 milligrams daily). In several studies, this nutritional regimen decreased the recurrence of new calcium-based kidney stones (which most are) by an astounding 90 percent. A good way to get these two nutrients is with a multi-nutrient supplement, such as Clinical Essentials by Terry Naturally. It supplies 150 milligrams of magnesium and 12.5 milli[1]grams of B6 . Take another 200 milligrams of magnesium with dinner. The stone-preventing power of the mineral may increase when you take it with a meal.

• Drink plenty of water. This keeps your urine diluted, making it less likely that calcium and oxalate (the two compounds that form most stones) will crystallize.

• When life hands you a kidney stone, make lemonade. You might want to add some lemon juice to that water. Lemons contain the chemical citrate, which inhibits the formation of stones. In fact, when researchers at the Comprehensive Kidney Stone Center at Duke Uni[1]versity Medical Center studied people with chronic stone problems on nearly four years of “lemonade therapy,” they found that their average level of stone formation dropped from one stone per year to 0.13, according to a study in the Journal of Urology

• Don’t worry about calcium. Many doctors tell their patients with kidney stones to cut their intake of calcium. After all, most stones are partly made of calcium, so reducing dietary intake of the mineral seems to make sense. But it’s wrong-minded advice. When researchers at Creighton University in Nebraska analyzed worldwide data on diet and stone risk, they found that “most of the studies show no increase in stone risk with high calcium intake (from either diet or supplements).” In fact, they pointed out, there is a lot of scientific evidence showing that high calcium intake decreases stone risk (probably by decreasing the amount of oxalate in the urine).

• As a last resort, pay attention to oxalates. If you have chronic stone problems, you may want to reduce your intake of high-oxalate foods and beverages: tea, coffee, beans, nuts, chocolate, red meat, spinach, kale, collard greens, beets, and rhubarb. However, because these foods (except red meat) are otherwise so healthful, limit them only if all the other treatments in my Real Cure Regimen for kidney stones have failed and stones have recurred.

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