Posted by Doctor Eric Madrid
In this article:
What are kidneys for?
The main task of the kidneys is to cleanse the blood and remove urine. After cleansing the blood, urine remains, which flows through the ureters (channels connecting each kidney to the bladder) into the bladder and is stored there until it is excreted from the body through the urethra. This is how the body gets rid of toxins and maintains the balance of essential electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium…
What are kidney stones?
If the urine contains more crystal-forming substances than can be completely dissolved in it, stones can form in the kidneys (called urolithiasis). They travel to the ureters where they can become stuck, causing excruciating pain. Kidney stones are very common. They are observed in about 10% of the world’s population.
Symptoms of urolithiasis
If stones have formed in the kidneys, the corresponding symptoms usually appear quickly and can go away just as quickly. Possible stabbing pain in the side that spreads from the middle of the back to the groin and into the lower abdomen. Symptoms also include nausea, vomiting, and difficulty getting comfortable. In addition, there may be blood in the urine or darkening.
Three types of kidney stones
In 80% of cases, kidney stones are formed from calcium. This can be calcium oxalate or calcium phosphate, which accumulates due to increased calcium concentrations in the kidneys or urine. However, there are many reasons for the formation of stones, they are not limited to an excess of calcium.
Uric acid (5-15%)
Uric acid is a human waste product excreted in urine. It is she who gives the urine its pungent smell. An excess of uric acid can lead to the formation of uric acid stones. Risk factors for elevated uric acid levels include prediabetes, diabetes, overweight, obesity, gout, and a diet high in animal protein and low in vegetables.
Struvite stones / Infectious stones (5%)
Such stones are formed in chronic infectious diseases of the urinary tract.
Risk factors for kidney stones
- Chronic dehydration, insufficient water intake (leads to an increase in calcium and uric acid levels, the formation of struvite stones).
- Eating a lot of salt (can lead to calcium stones).
- A diet rich in animal proteins (fraught with education uric acid stones).
- Chronic diarrhea (risk of calcium stone formation).
- Obesity (risk of formation calcium and uric acid stones).
- Family history of urolithiasis.
Soda, lemonades and kidney stones
Eating a lot of sugar is associated with increased calcium production. This seems to be why people with diabetes are more likely to form kidney stones. A study was published in 2013, which estimated more than 194,000 people. One of the findings: “Drinking sugar-sweetened sodas and punch is associated with an increased risk of stones, while drinking coffee, tea, beer, wine and orange juice is associated with a lower risk.” But not all citrus juices are created equal. In a 1998 study noted that drinking grapefruit juice is associated with a 44% increased risk of kidney stones.
There is good news too. According to a 2019 study, it can be helpful to add lemonade to your diet. The study said, “Lemonade can be a low-calorie, inexpensive and sugar-free beverage to reduce the risk of recurrent calcium urolithiasis by significantly increasing urine volume, increasing urinary citric acid levels, and decreasing calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate levels.” In a 2005 study the potential benefits of lemon juice are also noted.
Diet and kidney stones
If kidney stones re-form, you should pay close attention to your diet. For those with a history of calcium oxalate kidney stones, doctors traditionally recommend avoiding oxalate-rich foods such as spinach, rhubarb, corn porridge, baked potatoes, fries, and sweet potatoes.
In a 2014 study states: “The most effective dietary changes to prevent urolithiasis are moderate restriction of animal protein intake, a balanced diet of carbohydrates and fats, and a high intake of fruits and vegetables.” To avoid the formation of kidney stones, it is also worth consider reducing sodium intake. In a 2020 study it was concluded that a vegetarian diet containing dairy products is the most effective and conserving diet for urolithiasis. In another work in 2020 the possible benefits of the Mediterranean diet are also noted.
In a 2002 study found that a low-carb or ketogenic diet can lead to an increased risk of kidney stones. Think carefully about the pros and cons if you are following or considering a ketogenic diet. Personally, I have had over a hundred patients on a ketogenic diet and none had kidney stones.
Traditional approaches to the treatment of urolithiasis
Typically, urolithiasis is treated with medication and / or surgery. The most commonly used opiates (hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine) to relieve pain or tamsulosin to facilitate the passage of the stone through the urethra. Stones less than 5-6 mm in size can gradually leave the body on their own.
If time or medication fails, or if the stone is more than 6 mm in size, urologic surgery may be recommended. Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL), ureteroscopy, or percutaneous nephrolithotomy are used.
Six Natural Supplements for Kidney Stones
Natural supplements such as magnesium, potassium citrate, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin D and coenzyme Q10 have shown some benefit in urolithiasis.
Magnesium participates in more than 350 biochemical reactions in the body. With its deficiency, the likelihood of arrhythmias, calf cramps, high blood pressure, and urolithiasis increases.
Magnesium prevents calcium oxalate crystals from forming in urine. It is known that magnesium was used to prevent urolithiasis as early as the 17th and 18th centuries. And in the XXI century we are rediscovering its benefits.
In a 1982 study magnesium supplementation resulted in a tenfold reduction in the formation of kidney stones among the participants. In addition, 85% of patients, who usually had an average of one episode of urolithiasis per year, had no kidney stones for three consecutive years. The authors concluded that “… magnesium supplementation for calcium urolithiasis is effective and does not have serious side effects. There are no clinical signs of magnesium overdose. “
Moreover, in a 1988 study it was found that low urinary magnesium levels are associated with an increased risk of kidney stones. A similar result was obtained in the 2020 study. – it also shows an inverse correlation between magnesium levels …