Kidney stones are painful, so preventing these from forming again should be a top priority among patients.1 Everyone (not just former patients) must know how to avoid kidney stones, especially through these easy and inexpensive measures.
Hydration Is Key
Drinking plenty of water not only allows kidney stones to pass through the body but also prevents them from forming in the first place, as water dilutes stone-causing substances in the urine.2 According to the Mayo Clinic, people with a history of kidney stones should ideally pass about 2.6 quarts or 2.5 liters of urine a day.3
While the common advice is to drink at least eight glasses of water daily, this may not be enough for some or may be too much for others. To know if you’re getting enough water, check these indicators:4,5,6,7
✓ Urine color: Drinking enough water produces light yellow urine. Dark-colored urine means that the kidneys are retaining fluids to maintain bodily functions.
✓ Fatigue and mood swings: Low amounts of water could cause impaired performance and fatigue.
✓ Hunger even though you’ve already eaten: Drinking water helps regulate appetite and inhibit fluid retention.
✓ Back or joint ache: Lack of water can prompt acid waste build-up in the joints, triggering pain and inflammation.
✓ Dull/dry skin and or pronounced wrinkles: Drinking more water contributes to better skin health and improves overall skin complexion.
✓ Infrequent urination: People who are drinking enough water make at least seven to eight bathroom trips daily and urinate more freely. If you’re not urinating enough, you may be dehydrated.
✓ Constipation: People who don’t drink enough water are more constipated.
The colon pulls too much water from the stool when there’s lack of proper hydration, making it difficult for normal bowel function.
Avoid drinking too much water, as this can cause hyponatremia, wherein the blood’s sodium level becomes too diluted. Also, drink water gradually throughout the day instead of gulping it in big batches, because while this leads to frequent urination, it also prevents the body from absorbing extra fluid.
If you live in an area with a hot or dry climate or if you frequently exercise, drink more water than usual to produce adequate amounts of urine. Water loss through sweating reduces urine production, and by sweating more, you urinate less and invite stone-causing minerals to the kidneys and urinary tract.8,9
Aside from water, you can also drink vegetable juice, since it has been linked to these benefits:
✓ Helps the body absorb the vegetables’ nutrients
✓ Allows you to eat a healthier portion of vegetables in an efficient manner
✓ Promotes weight loss
✓ Enhances the immune system
✓ Increases energy levels
✓ Supports brain health
When juicing, use organically grown produce that are free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to allow the body to reap the benefits without the health risks. If you’re a beginner, start juicing celery and/or cucumber first. Afterward, try adding red or romaine lettuce, escarole, parsley, cilantro, kale and collard, and dandelion or mustard greens.
Limit Your Protein Intake
Reducing your intake of animal-based protein is useful for kidney stone prevention. High protein levels signal the body that it must eliminate nitrogen waste products from the blood, ultimately stressing the kidneys.10
Protein-rich foods like red meats, poultry, eggs and seafood were linked to elevated uric acid levels and increased risk for uric acid kidney stones.11 Red meat was also shown to reduce levels of a chemical called citrate in urine that’s responsible for preventing kidney stone formation.12
Cut down on your protein intake to at least half a gram of protein per lean body mass. This corresponds to around 40 to 70 grams (1 1/2 to 2 1/2 ounces) of protein daily. To know the exact amount you need, use this formula:
100 - percent of body fat = percent of lean mass x actual weight x 0.5 grams protein = total grams of protein recommended
1. Determine lean body mass by subtracting your percent body fat from 100.
2. Multiply percentage by your current weight. The answer is your lean body mass in pounds or kilos.
People who are bedridden or sedentary for long periods of time are more prone to kidney stones. Decreased physical activity causes bones to release more calcium, and research has revealed a positive link between reduced kidney stone formation and physical movement.
In a study that examined more than 84,000 postmenopausal women, those who exercised had a 31 percent decreased risk for stones. This lower risk was also true even if small amounts of physical activity were done, such as walking (three hours a week), light gardening (four hours a week) and moderate jogging (an hour a week).13
Ideally, strive to perform high-intensity interval training (HIIT) not just for the prevention of kidney stones, but for other benefits like reduced body fat, enhanced athletic speed and performance, improved muscle tone and higher energy and libido.
In particular, the Peak Fitness method, wherein you perform eight repetitions of the exercise within 30 seconds of maximum effort followed by 90 seconds of rest, is the most ideal HIIT workout you can try.
Other workouts that may help achieve this goal include sand sprints, high-intensity walking or super-slow strength training and kettlebell exercises. Prior to exercising, practice active isolated stretching (AIS) to improve the body’s flexibility and prevent injuries from happening.
If you’ve been sedentary for so long, consult a physical therapist or trainer first so they can help you develop a program that’s tailored to your needs and fitness levels, and guide you through the process to reduce your risk for accidents.