The incidence of kidney stones has been steadily increasing over the years. From less than 4% of Americans suffering with them in the 1970s, to more than 5% in the 1990s. Here in the UK, around kidney stones affect 10-20% of all men, and 3-5% of all women. They usually pass with no lasting damage, but this passing them is what can cause excruciating agony. Telltale symptoms that a kidney stone is present include:
- lower back and stomach pain
- vomiting and fever
Bigger stones result in greater symptoms, and sometimes require a more aggressive treatment to remove them.
What Causes Kidney Stones?
Urine naturally contains small amounts of stone forming substances including calcium, oxalate, urate, cysteine, xanthine, and phosphate. These chemicals are usually excreted in your urine via your kidneys. Problems can arise if there is not enough liquid.
The National Kidney Foundation describes the process as follows:
“Urine has various wastes dissolved in it. When there is too much waste in too little liquid, crystals begin to form. The crystals attract other elements and join together to form a solid that will get larger unless it is passed out of the body with the urine… In most people, having enough liquid washes them out or other chemicals in urine stop a stone from forming.”
How to Prevent Kidney Stones
Those that have suffered with kidney stones once have a high chance of recurrence, and so taking preventative steps is essential to avoid another painful episode.
The number one way to prevent kidney stones from forming to keep hydrated. It is a simple solution, but not heeded well, as kidney stones are still the reason behind half a million visits to the Emergency Room in America every year.
Drinking around 12 glasses of water per day can decrease recurrence by a half. This is a rough estimate, as individual need varies depending on climate and level of activity.
A good indicator of hydration levels is the colour of your urine. It should be a very pale yellow, almost clear when you are taking in enough water. However, taking a vitamin B2 supplement will cause urine to be a very bright yellow colour, and render this indicator useless.
Soda and Kidney Stones
Studies have suggested that drinking soda can actually increase the incidence of kidney stones.
This is due in part to the phosphorous acid which acidifies the urine. The high levels of sugar also impact the mineral levels in the body, particularly interfering with calcium and magnesium, which are major contributors to kidney stones.
The increase in soda consumption by young children has resulted in those as young as five suffering with these painful calcified mineral stones.
The following was published by the National Kidney Foundation,
”Eating too much fructose correlates with increasing risk of developing a kidney stone. Fructose can be found in table sugar and high fructose corn syrup. In some individuals, fructose can be metabolized into oxalate.”
A sedentary lifestyle is associated with kidney stones, as is high blood pressure and obesity. It is therefore advisable to exercise regularly and avoid overeating in addition to keeping adequately hydrated in order to keep your chance of developing kidney stones to a minimum.
Drinking hydrogen rich alkaline water is thought to be the way to gain the maximum benefit from the water that we drink. Alkaline jug filters are one option to provide convenient healthy water in a cost effective way without expensive plumbing and electrical connections. These jugs cleanse the impurities present in tap water, bring the pH to alkaline and also ionise the water.