Your body is amazing and your kidneys play a vital part in a healthy bodily function. They are essential to our health, getting rid of excess water and toxins, regulating blood pressure, making red blood cells and helping to keep bones strong. Every day your kidneys filter around 180 litres of blood.
Dan Magrill, Consultant Urologist explains ‘World Kidney Day is an important annual campaign which focuses on promoting awareness and encouraging people to ensure good kidney health.’ There are various conditions that can affect the kidneys and with 1 in 11 people getting stone symptoms in their lifetime, including severe pain, nausea, vomiting and the constant urge to urinate, we ask Dan for his top tips to prevent kidney stones.
Advice for staying hydrated and making healthy choices to keep your kidneys tip-top
- Drink plenty of water- maintaining a healthy intake of fluids helps flush bacteria and toxins out of your body and can reduce the risk of kidney stones and has numerous benefits for your general urological health. So, be sure to keep well hydrated, especially when engaging in exercise or activities that cause a lot of sweating. It’s best to drink continuously throughout the day, rather than going from periods of dehydration to drinking lots in one go. There is no need to drink expensive bottled water: tap water is just as good.
- A tip I share with most of my patients is adding lemon juice to your drinks, this increases the levels of natural stone inhibitors in your urine.
- Don’t restrict your calcium intake, studies have shown that a normal calcium intake actually protects you from future stone formation; a low calcium diet can increase your chance of stone formation.
- Certain foods linked to kidney stones include artificial sweeteners found in diet soft drinks, acidic food and drinks, such as citrus, tomatoes and apples, and spicy foods. Most people aren’t aware that animal proteins can increase your risk of stones and are in fact acidic and so can irritate the bladder.
- If you’re prone to kidney stones you should try to avoid oxalate-rich foods such as rhubarb, celery, spinach, beetroot and sesame seeds, all of which have a very high oxalate content. Black tea, chocolate, nuts (including peanut butter), cocoa and carob are all moderately high in oxalate. You should take them in moderation but you do not need to exclude them completely. Avoid tinned, packet or processed foods such as soups, salted crisps or nuts, tinned meats, meat paste, smoked fish and fish paste, all of which have a high salt content.
Mr Dan Magrill is Consultant Urological Surgeon for Western Sussex Hospital Foundation Trust, based at St Richards Hospital and privately at The Chichester Health Nuffield Hospital, he lives in Chichester with his wife and 2 young sons.