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Dear doctor, is there anything I can do to prevent developing kidney stones?

27 June 2017

Q: I recently read an article on kidney stones and being a male in my early 40’s, I think I’m at risk. Is there anything I can do to prevent developing kidney stones?

A: Kidney stones are on the rise with one in ten people likely to develop this over the course of their lifetime. Stone disease typically affects males aged 30-60 of Caucasian origin. Certain medical conditions also increase your risk of forming kidney stones such as; inflammatory bowel disease, urinary tract infection, and obesity.

The best way to prevent kidney stones is to ensure you drink plenty of fluids on a daily basis, I recommend 3 litres a day to maintain urine output of more than 2.5 litres per day. 

Exercise can also reduce the risk of kidney stones - it was found that people who exercise regularly have up to 30% lower risk of developing the condition. Obesity is linked to stone formation so it is essential to maintain a healthy weight.

People with calcium stones sometimes believe they should avoid eating calcium, however low calcium diets may actually increase your kidney stone risk. It's actually dietary salt causes high urine calcium, which then leads to kidney stones. The main source of salt in diet comes from processed and canned food.

Oxalate is another component that binds to calcium to form kidney stones. Foods high in oxalate include; spinach, chocolate, sweet potato, coffee, beetroot, nuts, rhubarb, and wheat bran. Limiting oxalate-rich foods may help prevent the stones from forming. Oxalate and calcium bind together in the digestive tract before reaching the kidneys, so it’s harder for stones to form if you eat high-oxalate foods and calcium-rich foods at the same time.

Additionally, eating less animal protein and more fruits and vegetables will decrease urine acidity which will help to reduce stone formation.

Mr Mohamed Ismail is a Consultant Urologist practising at Spire Portsmouth Hospital.

 

The content of this article is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other health care professional.

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