A kidney stone is a hard mass developed from crystals that separate from the urine and build up on the inner surfaces of the kidney. Normally, urine contains chemicals that prevent the crystals from forming. These inhibitors do not seem to work for everyone, however, so some people form stones. If the crystals remain tiny enough, they will travel through the urinary tract and pass out of the body in the urine without being noticed.
Kidney stones may contain various combinations of chemicals. The most common type of stone contains calcium in combination with either oxalate or phosphate. These chemicals are part of a person’s normal diet and make up important parts of the body, such as bones and muscles.
The frequency of stone formation has increased dramatically during the last few decades, paralleling the rise in other diseases associated with the Western diet, eg heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Kidney stones usually occur in adults over the age of thirty and affect both sexes, but are more common in men than women.
Risk increases with:
- Excess weight and insulin insensitivity: excess both excess weight and insulin insensitivity lead to increased urinary excretion of calciu.
- High sugar intake: urinary calcium levels rise following a meal high in sugar.
- Low magnesium status: magnesium increases the solubility of calcium oxalate and inhibits both calcium phosphate and calcium oxalate stone formation (supplemental magnesium alone has been shown to prevent recurrences of kidney stones)
- B6 deficiency: vitamin B6 reduces the production and excretion of oxalates by transporting glutamine to the kidneys. The kidneys use glutamine to produce ammonia, preventing the urine from becoming too acidic. An acidic urine promotes precipitation of calcium oxalate, which then forms stones.
- Heavy metal toxicity: many heavy metals, such as mercury (from amalgam fillings), gold, uranium and cadmium (from cigarette smoke and vehicle pollution) are toxic to the kidneys.
- Excessive consumption of alcohol: causes a rapid increase in blood sugar levels, which causes urinary calcium levels to rise and leads to increased urinary excretion of calcium.
- Western dietary patterns: frequent consumption of highly refined carbohydrates (white flour, white rice, pasta, cakes etc), animal protein, fat and vitamin D-enriched dairy products, along with a low intake of fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Frequent consumption of foods high in purines: organ meats, meats, shellfish, yeast, herrings, sardines, mackerel and anchovies.
- Excessive salt consumption: people who form kidney stones excrete much higher amounts of urinary calcium when their salt intake rises.
- Dehydration: dehydration results in a much higher concentration of stone components in the urine.
- Maintain an ideal weight or lose some weight if necessary
- Drink at least six pints of fluid, mostly filtered water, each day to increase urine flow and dilute the urine.
- Avoid excessive sweating
- Exercise regularly – exercise improves insulin sensitivity.
- Minimise intake of sugar, refined carbohydrates and alcohol
- Increase consumption of fibre by choosing wholegrain breads and cereals, fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Increase consumption of green leafy vegetables a rich source of vitamin K which is a powerful inhibitor of stone formation (may be one of the reasons why vegetarians have a lower incidence of stones).
- Consume a nutrient-dense diet rich in whole, unprocessed, preferably organic foods, especially plant foods (fruits, vegetables, beans, seeds, nuts, and wholegrains) and coldwater fish such as salmon, low in animal products, fat and processed foods.
- Avoid aluminium-containing antacids causes excessive excretion of calcium.
- Vitamin B6 reduces the production and excretion of oxalates
- Vitamin K necessary for the body’s synthesis of a molecule that is a powerful inhibitor of kidney stone formation
- Magnesium increases the solubility of calcium oxalate and inhibits both calcium phosphate and calcium oxalate stone formation.
- Calcium citrate or malate calcium restriction enhances oxalate absorption whilst calcium supplementation reduces oxalate excretion.
- Citrate bound to magnesium or potassium has the ability to reduce urinary saturation of calcium oxalate and retard the growth of calcium crystals and has been shown to be quite effective, ceasing stone formation on up to 90% of subjects
- For uric acid stones consider folic acid (inhibits the enzyme responsible for production of uric acid) and bicarbonate (uric acid stones are formed in an overly acid urine and bicarbonate can be used to alkalinise the urine)
MOST IMPORTANTLY OF ALL DRINK MORE WATER!!!!!!