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Tips to help prevent kidney stones

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Women drinking a glass of water

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  • If you want to prevent kidney stones, drinking enough water is one of the most effective measures
  • Eating too many foods containing protein can trigger an increase in uric acid levels and raise your chances of developing kidney stones
  • Strive to get as much exercise as you can, since being sedentary could increase your kidney stone risk

Kidney stones can cause excruciating pain,1 so preventing them from forming again should be a top priority.

Hydration is key

Drinking water not only allows kidney stones to pass through the body2 but also helps prevent them from forming in the first place. Water also assists in diluting and blocking stone-causing substances in your urine.3 So how much water is enough?

While the common advice is to drink at least eight glasses of water daily, there's very little research backing up this claim. How much water you need would depend on your age, activity level and the climate. Furthermore, you can rely on these indicators to help you know if you're getting enough water:

  • Thirst — This signals your body that you should be drinking water.
  • Urine color Drinking enough water produces light yellow urine with a pale straw color.4 Dark yellow urine means you're dehydrated and the kidneys are retaining fluids to maintain bodily functions.

If you live somewhere with a hot or dry climate or if you exercise enough to produce a sweat, you should drink more water than usual to release adequate amounts of urine.5 Water loss through sweating may reduce urine production, causing you to urinate less and increasing the amounts of stone-causing minerals in your kidneys and urinary tract.6

However, be careful not to drink too much water. This can cause hyponatremia and could heavily dilute electrolytes in your blood. This condition is characterized by having extremely low sodium levels in your blood (below 135 mmol/L).

Signs that you may have had too much water include nausea, vomiting, double vision and muscle cramping. If you experience these symptoms and you know you've been drinking a lot of water or other beverages to hydrate, see your doctor immediately, as this can be life-threatening.7

Limit your protein intake

Reducing your intake of animal-based protein is useful for kidney stone prevention.8 Consuming a protein-rich diet can lead to decreased levels of a chemical called citrate, which is found in your urine. Citrate is responsible for helping inhibit kidney stone formation, hence having lowered levels of it can increase your risk of these stones forming.

Daniel Pendick, writing for the Harvard Health Blog, also notes that red meats, poultry, eggs and seafood, all considered high-protein sources, were linked to elevated uric acid levels and increased risk for uric acid kidney stones.9 The National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases suggests consulting your doctor regarding the ideal amount of protein you should consume.10

Get moving

Being sedentary is one of the risk factors for kidney stones,11 so incorporating exercises into your routine is ideal if you want to lower your risk for this condition. In a 2014 study that examined 84,225 postmenopausal women, those who exercised had a 31% decreased risk for kidney stones.12

Ideally, strive to perform high-intensity interval training (HIIT), as it's an ideal workout that offers benefits like enhanced lean mass and aerobic performance, skeletal muscle mitochondrial respiration,13 better cardiovascular health, improved muscular fitness and reduced body fat.14

While there are many HIIT options you can try performing, the Nitric Oxide (NO) Dump is one of the most beneficial. Although it's a shorter workout that allows you to clock in just four minutes of exercise, it's able to target all 16 of your major muscle groups. The NO dump also assists with preventing mitochondrial decline, and yields anabolic and metabolic benefits that could promote weight and fat loss.

If you want to try the NO dump for yourself, 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 workout itself to reduce your risk for injuries.

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