I was sitting at a coffee shop on a Thursday night, crunching away on my computer. It had been an extremely productive day, and I was ready to conquer the world. All of a sudden I felt a sharp shooting pain in my side. I waited for 5 minutes hoping it would go away. Nope. It only got worse. I left and started walking to my car. My face and hands turned white, my blood pressure dropped, and all I could think was, “I hope I make it home.”
I got into my car and sped through red lights until I arrived at my house. Luckily my roommate was there and took me to the hospital. After multiple tests, the doctors finally determined that my immense pain was stemming from multiple kidney stones that were passing through my body.
I screamed, “Are you kidding me?! What the F*CK is a kidney stone, and how do I get these things out of me now!” The doctor said there was nothing he could do except give me pain medication, and told me to drink a lot of water and wait for them to pass.
The next few days were the most miserable days of my life. The pain was so bad that I couldn’t do anything except lay in bed. Every time I tried to eat, I threw up. I felt helpless and couldn’t help but think, “Why did this happen to me?”.
Thankfully I snapped out of this mindset and decided to turn this situation around as best I could. I spent hours researching kidney stones, their causes, and how to prevent them from forming. I was shocked at what I found.
One week later a stone finally passed. I immediately felt relief and was pain-free! Who knew a stone the size of a grain of sand could cause that much pain?! Blows my mind, but it's true.
Once feeling better, I felt it was my duty to share with you what I’ve learned about kidney stones to prevent this situation from occurring in your life. I made a video and wrote this article to share what I have learned.
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The most common types of kidney stones
There are a few different types of kidney stones. The most common types are calcium oxalate stones. According to the National Kidney Foundation:
“Calcium oxalate stones are solid masses that form in the kidney when there are high levels of calcium, oxalate, cystine, or phosphate and too little liquid.”
Oxalate is a natural substance found in many foods. Your kidney’s job is to filter-out waste products that travel through your bloodstream in the form of urine. The issue lies if there is too much waste in too little liquid. AKA you’re dehydrated. This is when crystals can begin to form, and can stick together to form stones.
Common causes of kidney stones
There are many different causes of kidney stones. The one I found to be the most important was not drinking enough water. As stated above, stones are primarily caused by not drinking enough water to filter out oxalate in your bloodstream. If you drink plenty of water, this should help prevent stones from forming. In addition to drinking plenty of water, below is a list of common kidney stone causes:
- Family history of stones
- Consuming excess amounts of foods high in oxalate
- Consuming excessive amounts of salt
- Consuming excessive amounts of animal protein
- Consuming excessive amounts of processed foods high in processed sugar (high fructose corn syrup)
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Foods that are high in oxalate
Numerous foods, both healthy and not healthy, are high in oxalate. You may be shocked at some of the high-oxalate foods below on this list:
- Dark Chocolate
- Black Tea
- Peanuts and other nuts including almonds and cashews
- Soy products such as tofu and soy milk
For a full list of foods high oxalate, click here.
Tips to prevent kidney stones
- Limit the above list of high-oxalate foods in your diet.
- Drink plenty of water!! To figure out how much water you need to drink each day, multiply your weight by .67. Formula: (weight in pounds * .67=ounces of water to drink each day).
- When eating high oxalate foods, consume 1, 8oz. glass of water before and after you eat these foods to help flush the oxalate from your body.
- When drinking tea, opt for green tea instead of black tea, and only steep your tea bag for 2 minutes. The longer your tea bag sits, the more oxalate that is released.
- Pair high oxalate foods with calcium-rich foods such as dairy products including yogurt, cow’s milk, cottage cheese, and cheese. Yes; you can eat cheese!! This will help to break down oxalate in food.
- Drink 1, 8 oz. glass of warm water with lemon juice first thing in the morning. This will also boost your metabolism!
- Consume 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar each day. I prefer to mix mine with warm water and ½ tablespoon honey.
- Avoid processed foods as much as possible that contain large amounts of salt and sugar.
- Don’t overly consume animal protein. To figure out how much protein you should consume on a daily basis based on your fitness goals and lifestyle, click here.
- Unless you're really sick, avoid vitamin C supplements. Too much vitamin C can cause an excess amount of oxalate in your body.
Kidney stones can happen to anyone, even if you’re extremely healthy and fit. To help prevent stones, use the advice and tips above to tweak what you eat and drink, and look into your family history to see if kidney stones run in your family.