A kidney stone, or medically referred to as nephrolithiasis, is a hard, crystalline mineral material formed within the kidney or urinary tract.

Kidney stones form when there is a decrease in urine volume and/or an excess of stone-forming substances in the urine.

Dehydration is a major risk factor for kidney stone formation, and symptoms include flank pain and blood in the urine.

Prevention of kidney stones typically includes both lifestyle modifications and medications prescribed by your doctor. You may be able to reduce your risk of kidney stones by adhering to the following guidelines:

Drink water throughout the day: For people with a history of kidney stones, doctors usually recommend producing about 2.5 liters of urine a day. Your doctor may ask you to measure your urine output to evaluate hydration status and to ensure you are drinking enough water.

A good rule of thumb is to consume eight to 12 glasses of water per day. Avoid excessive intake of coffee, tea and alcohol, as these act as diuretics, which increase dehydration status.

Eat fewer oxalate-rich foods: If your body consistently forms calcium oxalate stones, your doctor and dietitian may recommend restricting foods rich in oxalates. Oxalate foods include rhubarb, beets, okra, spinach, Swiss chard, sweet potatoes, nuts, tea, chocolate and soy products.

Choose a diet low in salt and animal protein: Reduce the amount of salt you eat and incorporate non-animal protein sources into your diet, such as beans, nuts and other legumes. Consider using a salt substitute and aim for a goal of 1,500 mg of sodium or less per day.

Use caution with calcium supplements: Consult with your doctor before taking calcium supplements, as some have been linked to increased risk of kidney stones in research studies. If a calcium supplement is recommended, reduce the risk of kidney stones by taking calcium supplements with meals.

Do not restrict calcium-rich foods such as milk, yogurt, kale, broccoli, almonds or cheese, as diets low in calcium can actually increase kidney stone formation in some people.

Carey Stites is a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and a Registered Dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition. Carey is currently the Registered Dietitian working with Wellstone in Harker Heights. Contact her at carey.stites@smchh.org.

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