If you have ever had the misfortune of passing a kidney stone as I have, you will probably want to take every preventive measure you can to avoid a recurrence. They form when chemicals in the urine crystallize into a stone that seems as hard as a diamond. The crystal-forming substance is uric acid and calcium, and the fluid in your system normally can dilute it. But when the urine is high in alkaline or acid, there aren’t enough liquids to flush it through, and kidney stones develop.
It was once thought that genetics played a major role, but now it is lifestyle that seems to be the major contributor. Diet and exercise is now believed to significantly influence risk of kidney stones. Most of the time they pass without doing any damage, but while they are working their way through it can be pure agony, or just intermittent irritation. It depends on the size, which can range from the size of a grain of sand to that of a golf ball, and how and where it lodges. Its symptoms are typically pain in the lower back.
Once you have one there isn’t a whole lot you can do except drink copious amounts of water and wait it out. Twice I went to a doctor about them, and twice they ran a bunch of expensive tests that told me they were kidney stones and there was nothing they could do. Problem is, you may be 98% sure they are kidney stones, but you’re in so much pain you keep wondering, “what if it is something else, because right now I feel like I’m dying.”
So the best way to fight them is through prevention. It’s probably obvious that if they are caused by the system not being flushed out adequately, that a good flush is what’s needed. And the best thing to flush the system with is water. How do you know how much water is enough: by the color of your urine. It should be very pale yellow.
Your magnesium and calcium intake are also very important. Magnesium is important in how the body absorbs calcium, and health issues like kidney stones can arise if your calcium/magnesium ration is too high. It used to be that people at risked were advised to avoid calcium-rich foods, and that would seem logical. But it has been found that calcium actually blocks a chemical action causing the kidney stones to form. So both magnesium and calcium in the diet can reduce your risk.
Exercise is the last lifestyle factor we’ll cover to eliminate the pain of kidney stones. People who live sedentary lives for long periods of time can have more calcium in their bloodstream due to bone deterioration, causing calcium to be lost from the bone. High blood pressure is another cause of kidney stones, and living an active lifestyle with ample exercise will keep blood pressure down. And this doesn’t mean working out like an athlete, but just keeping active.
Boosting your metabolism begins with lean muscle, as that is one of the factors to maintaining your metabolism. Plus it always helps to drink water, so read Water Help You Lose Weight for more on the subject. Rich Carroll is a writer and health enthusiast living in Chicago.