When we talk about kidney stones we are referring to a condition that forms stones in the urinary system. These are crystal ball-like structures that accumulate in the ureter and bladder. They form different shapes and sizes. Some are microscopic while others are the size of a golf ball. The kidney is an important organ in the body which filters excess acidic salts and minerals from the blood. Once these materials get into the urinary system they solidify and form kidney stones. Kidney stones cause pain around the lower back, fever in the body, nausea and vomiting. You will also find blood in the urine as a result of rubbing of the stones against the wall of the urethra as they come out in urine.
There are a number of causes of kidney stones, and most of them depend on the type of substances getting into the body through diet. Such substances, which accumulate in the urine, once filtered include phosphates and oxalates.
Yes, your diet can Cause Kidney Stones
Whenever you eat, the body utilizes the nutrients in the food and does away with the excess ones. Most of these excess minerals and salts are filtered by the kidney from the blood. This implies that when you take high amounts of foods containing such acidic salts and minerals, you increase the chances of getting kidney stones.
The top 10 food items that are scientifically proven to cause kidney causes are excessive caffeine, Rhubarb, artificial sweeteners, High protein diet such as meat, sardines, excessive salt in processed foods which doesn’t let the sodium get flushed out of the body, carbonated drinks (energy drinks, soda, bottled juice), some leafy vegetables such as Swiss Chard, Okra, Spinach as it result in the build-up of calcium oxalate, dairy products that are very rich in calcium content, which complicates the waste elimination process, as well as other processed foods that are produced using herbicides and pesticides.
Types of Kidney Stones Caused by Diet
Uric Acid Stones
When a person has consumed too many purines, the body accumulates excess acid in the system. Once these acids are filtered from the blood, they solidify in the urinary system. Whenever the levels of uric acid in the urine rise, it leads to the formation of kidney stones. Purines are found in meat, gravy, scallops, mackerel, herring, sardines, anchovies and meat products. Uric acid increases only because of rise in purine intake.
This is a very common condition that results from extreme amounts of oxalate and phosphates in the body. According to medical research, out of every 5 cases of kidney stones, 4 are calcium stones. This means that 80% of the time, a patient is actually suffering from calcium stones. These calcium stones are basically just the combination of oxalate and calcium, but n occasionally also be calcium-phosphate or calcium-oxalate-phosphate. These are caused by various dietary factors that cause calcium stone.
Relationship between Diet and Kidney Stones
Calcium and Kidney Stones
The type of calcium we are talking about here is calcium found in food. When you take in calcium in form of food, it actually prevents calcium oxalate stones rather than increasing the risk. When you eat calcium it gets into the digestive tract and binds with oxalate hence preventing it from passing through the blood to the urinary system to form stones.
Animal Proteins and Kidney Stones
When you take in excess of animal proteins it leads to conditions such as uric acid stones. Most of animal proteins and meat, such as fish and eggs, are rich in purines. As the substances are broken down they give high amounts of uric acid in the urine which is a cause for uric acid stones.
Oxalate and Kidney Stones
There are a number of foods rich in oxalate which, when taken, increases the chances of getting kidney stones. In case you are suffering from calcium oxalate stones, it mostly brought about by oxalate. When you take in these foods they produce oxalate into the urine which combines with calcium to form kidney stones. Some of these foods include; nuts, spinach, rhubarb and wheat bran. The ways to lower oxalate in your diet are proper and balanced calcium intake (not less, not more), ditch fruits like raspberries, kiwi, and grapefruit, avocado and dates, as they have high oxalate content. When trying to avoid foods that have a high likelihood oh causing kidney stones, say "no" to dried or canned fruits such as canned pineapple, stay away from vegetables high in oxalate content such as spinach, okra, turnips, fried & baked potato and Rhubarb. Have a balanced dairy diet, ditch pasta and brown rice and go for corn flour and white rice, enjoy meat products as they are not high in oxalate content, avoid nuts as they have high oxalate content and also try to avoid crackers and chips.
Sodium and Stones
Because a lot of people are aware of the fact that kidney stones are caused by excessive intake of calcium and oxalate, they are keen in avoiding foods high in these minerals. This is good because calcium and oxalate are the major culprits of kidney stone formation. This is true to a great extent because majority of the kidney stones are the type of calcium-oxalate kidney stones. But what a lot of people are yet unaware of is the fact that sodium is another culprit for the formation of kidney stones.
Still many people may not believe that sodium may be a factor towards formation of kidney stones. However, sodium, especially from salt, contributes in the formation of kidney stones. This is where increase in sodium leads to excretion of high amounts of calcium in your urine. High amounts of the calcium produced combine with phosphate and oxalate forming the stones.
The Bottom Line
Kidney stones formed as a result of diet can be prevented by reducing intake of foods related to the condition. Kidney stones form as a result of excess intake of such acidic salts and minerals. So, now that you know which food might trigger formation of kidney stones, save yourself the trouble of the excruciating pain accompanied by kidney stones.