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Stay Hydrated to Avoid Kidney Stones

Hot weather is a high-risk time for kidney stones. Why? It's largely due to dehydration. In hot weather, you sweat more. So if you don't drink enough water, you could be in trouble. When you're dehydrated, your body fluids become more concentrated, which increases the likelihood of kidney stone formation. Passing a kidney stone is very painful. About one in every 10 people will develop a kidney stone during their lifetime. Here are some things you can do to lower your risk.

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Water is best. Experts recommend drinking at least 2 to 2.5 liters (8-10 cups) of water a day in hot weather. Your urine production is the best indicator of good hydration. You should produce at least 2.5 liters (10 cups) of urine daily to minimize kidney stone risk. This means you should urinate at least every two hours, and the urine should look mostly clear with little yellow.

  • Be careful of drinking too much iced tea in hot weather. Some urologists think iced tea may promote the formation of the most common type of kidney stone – the calcium oxalate stone. Black tea is high in oxalates. Lemonade may be a safer choice. The citric acid in the lemon inhibits urinary crystal formation. But lemonade comes with lots of sugar and calories. Water is still the best choice. Try flavoring it with a little freshly-squeezed lemon juice.

  • Eat healthy foods. Research shows that a diet high in refined sugars, salt, and animal proteins increases the risk of kidney stones. These types of foods increase calcium loss in the urine. When animal protein is digested, it increases calcium in the urine, which then promotes crystal formation in the urine. Eating foods with excess sodium and high fructose corn syrup, particularly if your magnesium level is low, can increase the calcium level in your urine and cause stone formation. Good sources of magnesium are dark leafy greens, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.

  • Contrary to what you might think, non-fat dairy products (and other foods that are naturally high in calcium) lower your risk for stone formation. However, taking high doses of calcium supplements increases the risk. Get your calcium primarily from food sources.

The best therapy for preventing kidney stones is proper hydration. Drink plenty of water, and limit salt, refined sugars, and a high intake of animal proteins. And eat more plant-based proteins such as legumes, soy, and nuts.

Source: Fox Health News, Aug. 17, 2012

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