06 Jun Avoid Kidney Stones Naturally
Dreadful kidney stones are the worst. I personally have never had one, but my heart aches for people that have to deal with them. I heard the pain from a kidney stone can be worse than child birth?! That makes me cringe a bit because child birth was. freakin’. painful.
Disclaimer: We have rebranded to Nuvitru! Affiliate links are used in this blog where I make a small commission, with no additional cost to you. When you use these links, it helps support Nuvitru Wellness.
As with everything, let’s look at this on a nutritional level.
What exactly are kidney stones?
Most commonly, kidney stones are minerals that become concentrated and form a stone. Most commonly, you’ll see it’s calcium + oxalate, uric acid, phosphate, etc. Since there are many kinds of stones, we’ll really zone into the most common stone… calcium + oxalate. Some people are more likely to get kidney stones while some people never have one in their life. There are a couple reasons why, which I encourage to ALWAYS search for.
You need to solve the underlying cause of getting a kidney stone – not just putting a band-aid on taking care of the kidney stone(s) you have.
There are factors that increase the crystals forming in the kidneys, like not drinking enough water, because the kidneys become super saturated. There are also factors that can favor stone development, like pH changes, excessive vitamin D intake, hyperparathyroidism (the parathyroid hormone is essential in having the balance of phosphate + calcium), and hypercortisolism.
Drink Enough Water
Our bodies need water to help filter out toxins in our body and move nutrients around in our body. When we are dehydrated, the minerals become super saturated that can result in stone formation. Avoid certain excessive use of dehydrating beverages, like coffee, tea, and alcohol.
Drink Lemon Water
Cochrane pulled various studies to see what citrate does to kidney stones and found,
Citrate therapy significantly reduced the stone size. New stone formation was significantly lower with citrate therapy compared to control.
They used potassium citrate in the studies, which is very similar to citric acid found in lemons and limes. How does it do it? The citrate binds with calcium in the urine and reduces the saturation of calcium in urine and can bind to oxalate, which helps in preventing the crystal being formed.
Intake Magnesium + B6
Many of us are depleted in magnesium levels. Magnesium is a mineral that helps balance other minerals in our body. It increases the solubility of the calcium oxalate stones, reducing the formation of future stones.
One of my favorite ways to intake magnesium is the magnesium citrate form, which is even more beneficial because of the citrate I just mentioned above.
In the Textbook of Natural Medicine, B6 reduces the body’s production and urinary excretion of oxalate. Supplementing with B6 may be a great idea!
I recommend a multivitamin that you can get the magnesium citrate form and a bioavailable B6! There is also a theory that being deficient in K2 may also increase your odds of getting kidney stones.
If you want to work with a dietitian or clinicial nutritionist, like me, to find out what you’re deficient in nutrient-wise, book a free 15 minute appointment with me to see what services I offer!
I know I know, here I am talking about gut health again. How does gut health tie into kidney stones? There is a little bacteria in us called oxalobacter formigenes, which helps increase the intestinal absorption of oxalate, which decreases the amount of oxalate going into the urine. Not only does oxalobacter influences oxalate, but so does other good gut bacteria like the bifido species. In the Kidney International,
Manipulation of gastrointestinal (GI) flora can influence urinary oxalate excretion to reduce urinary supersaturation levels.
Eat A Whole Foods Diet
Our society eats a lot of “foods” that look like food. We don’t get enough fiber, eat way too many refined foods and drinks, drink a lot of alcohol, and not enough vegetables. What we eat plays a big role in maintaining a healthy pH of our urine. The majority of Americans also eat a TON of sugar. Sugar stimulates the parathyroid hormone (remember, that hormone that plays a role in the balance of phosphate and calcium), which increases excretion of phosphorus, magnesium, and releases excess bone calcium. When we eat a whole foods diet, we also steer clear of intaking too much refined sodium.
Be careful with eating a massive amounts of high fructose, since it can increase excess uric acid excretion, increasing stone formation from that. If you’re on a super low carb diet, like the ketogenic diet, you can become inefficient in recycling vitamin C, which leads to the degradation pathway (aka oxalates). Vitamin C needs to be able to enter the cells to be recycled through the GLUT receptors, which are triggered by insulin.
These are just simply ways of how oxalate excretion can be increased in the body – this may only affect people that are more prone to kidney stones.
Increasing Calcium Foods
While you may think you need to reduce the amount of calcium you eat, that’s technically not always the case. Calcium influences how much oxalate we absorb. We need to make sure we aren’t getting too much, or too little, calcium. I always recommend avoiding calcium supplementation, but getting calcium from whole food sources like….
- Goat’s Milk + Goat’s Milk Yogurt
- Bok Choy
- Sesame Seeds
But aren’t those foods high in oxalates too, which we should avoid? Not so fast, remember how I mentioned calcium influences the oxlate we absorb? Just because a food is high in oxalate doesn’t mean that we will absorb that much! Unless there is a genetic defect with excessive oxalate absorption, avoiding oxalate high foods for a long period of time reduces the amount of nutrient dense foods you can eat.
Remember, we don’t want a band-aid, we want a solution!
What have you tried with kidney stones?