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Kidney stones are one of the most common health problems, affecting both men and women. But what causes kidney stones? They are formed when there is an imbalance in the levels of certain minerals in the body and their size can range from a small grain of sand to a large pebble. If they are lodged in the urinary tract, they can cause severe pain and blockage of urine flow. In some cases, they may even need to be surgically  removed.

While kidney stones are not typically life-threatening, they can have a significant impact on health. The pain they cause can be severe and debilitating, making it difficult to carry out everyday activities. In addition, the blockage of urine flow can lead to urinary tract infections, which can be both painful and dangerous. If left untreated, kidney stones can also cause kidney damage ( hydroureteronephrosis ) and kidney failure.

For all these reasons, it is important to seek medical attention if you think you may have kidney stones. Your doctor can help to diagnose the problem and recommend the best course of treatment. With proper kidney stones treatment, most people can recover without any long-term health problems. 

There are three prevailing conventional treatments for kidney stones They are; shockwave therapy, laparoscopic surgery, and ureteroscopy. 

  • Shockwave therapy involves using sound waves to break up kidney stones into smaller pieces so that they can be passed out more easily. 
  • Laparoscopic surgery involves making a small incision in the abdomen and removing kidney stones through a tube. 
  • Ureteroscopy involves inserting a small camera into the ureter to locate and remove kidney stones.

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Specific medicines are used to relax the muscles of the ureter, which helps to ease the passage of kidney stones.

So let us understand why kidney stones happen. What causes them? And what can we do to avoid them as well as get rid of them?

Dehydration: Dehydration occurs when you don’t drink enough water and your urine becomes more concentrated. This increases the chances of kidney stones formation. If you’re prone to kidney stones, you should drink 2-3 litres of water per day. This amount may need to be adjusted depending on your lifestyle factors such as ambient temperature and your job profile. For example, someone who spends a lot of time commuting to work will need to drink more water than someone who works in an air-conditioned office.

Magnesium: It is important to make sure you are getting enough magnesium in your diet as it helps your body to absorb calcium better. You can increase your magnesium intake by eating more magnesium-rich foods such as pumpkin seeds, cashews, green leafy vegetables, and organic peanuts. If you are taking magnesium supplements, aim to keep your levels in the upper third of the reference range. Chelated forms of magnesium are usually better absorbed by the body. If you are also experiencing constipation, you may want to try the citrate form of magnesium (which can also be taken in combination with another well-absorbed form such as magnesium glycinate).

Potassium: Potassium is known to be a helpful supplement for those with uric acid-based stones. The citrate form is especially useful as it helps to prevent further stones from forming. 200 mg can be taken daily. Potassium is an electrolyte that helps regulate fluid balance in the body. It is also necessary for muscle function. Potassium citrate is often used as a dietary supplement to treat or prevent kidney stones. Kidney stones are hardened deposits of minerals and acid salts that form in the kidney. They can cause severe pain and can lead to kidney damage or failure. It’s important to note that potassium should be avoided by people who are on certain medications, like diuretics for hypertension.

Vitamin K2: Vitamin K2 is an important nutrient for maintaining healthy bones and preventing kidney stones. Vitamin K2 helps to keep calcium in the bones and out of the arteries and kidneys, where it can cause problems. A lack of vitamin K2 can lead to bone loss and an increased risk of kidney stones. If you want to make sure that your calcium intake is being used to build strong bones, rather than ending up in your bloodstream or being excreted by your kidneys, then you need to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin K2. This vitamin helps to prevent calcium from forming into stones, which can be a serious health concern. For prevention, you should take up to 90 mcg of vitamin K2 in the form of MK-7  daily. If you already have active stones, you may need to increase your dosage..

B Vitamin, B6: All of the B vitamins must be present in your body, in sufficient amounts. B6 deserves special attention because it is essential for nerve health, oxalate metabolism, and glutathione formation. Since everyone’s body is not adept at turning vitamins into their active forms, these vitamins should be of the “active” variety. For instance, the proper form of Vitamin B6 is P5P and not pyridoxine. It is crucial that we have all of the B vitamins in the top third of the reference range. Just having them slightly above the bottom of reference range is not enough.

Vitamin D: People who are prone to kidney stones should take care while taking vitamin D supplements as they increase calcium absorption. Vitamin D also uses up magnesium in the body, so less is available to process calcium properly. Vitamin D supplementation should always be combined with Vit K2 ( 10000 IU ; 100 mcg ) for proper utilization of calcium.

Avoid consuming Black Tea and oxalate-rich food: To avoid kidney stones, it is important to avoid black tea. As said earlier, nearly 80% of the stones are of the oxalate variety. Therefore, drinking black tea can aggravate the problem significantly.

In addition to avoiding black tea, it is also important to avoid other foods rich in oxalates such as spinach, beets, almonds, groundnuts, and chocolates. If you are susceptible to kidney stones, it is best to either avoid these foods altogether or to consume them in moderation. 

Avoid purine-rich food- Common food ingredients like purine can actually cause kidney stones – specifically, the uric acid kind. You’ll find purine in foods like red meat, some seafood, all alcohol, mushrooms, green peas, and cauliflower. So if you’re looking to avoid kidney stones, it’s best to steer clear of these foods.

Fresh Lemon Juice- Juice of half a lemon daily helps in reducing  the recurrence of stones. If you have existing stones then you can drink up to 4 lemons per day. The citric acid in lemons binds with extra calcium and prevents it from precipitating in the form of stones.

Insulin resistance and inflammation- Eliminating sugars and refined carbohydrates are one of the most important and easiest steps you can take to prevent kidney stones if you are diabetic. This is because elevated blood sugar is highly oxidizing and can damage the kidneys over time. If you have insulin resistance or chronic inflammation, these conditions can also increase your risk of developing kidney stones. Therefore, it is important to address these underlying conditions in order to prevent kidney stones from recurring.

Liver and bile- There are a few different things that can impact kidney stones, one of them being the overall health and quality of your liver and bile. If your bile flow is slow, it can contribute to stone formation. People who have had their gallbladders removed are also at a higher risk for kidney stones.

All of these dynamics can ensure that there isn’t enough bile available for fat digestion. This unabsorbed fat then binds with calcium in the gut, which means that calcium isn’t available for binding with oxalates. The oxalates are then easily absorbed by the gut, which can lead to kidney stones.

Yeast- Such as candida aspergillus, produces oxalates during its metabolic processes. So people with yeast overgrowth can have excessive oxalate levels, which can cause problems in the urinary/vaginal tract and elsewhere in the body.

Oxalobacter- Oxalobacter formigenes is a commensal bacterium that metabolizes oxalates. This reduces the number of oxalates in the body. If this bacterium is low in numbers or activity, oxalates can build up in the body. 

Kidney stones can cause pain and blockage in the urinary tract. If a kidney stone is large enough and is not treated promptly, it can cause kidney damage or even kidney failure.

We hope this article provides some clarity regarding the various causes of kidney stones as well as some solutions for prevention and/or treatment. If you have any questions or additional insights, please leave them in the comments section below. 

Source credit for this blog: Shalini Chakraborty, Hormone Reset

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