1. Drink more fluids
Drinking more liquids is the best way you can help prevent future stones. Stones begin to form when substances in the urine are too concentrated. The more you drink, the more urine you will make. This means all substances in the urine will be less concentrated.
How much urine should I be producing?
The usual recommended daily urine production is about 2 to 3 quarts (2000-3000 ml). If you are producing more than 3 quarts of urine on a regular basis, it is possible to deplete important minerals stored in the body.
To measure the amount of urine you produce in a day, you can either:
- Collect all urine in a jug and measure at the end of the day
- Use a measuring cup each time you urinate and add up the amounts at the end of the day
- Color - Dark amber urine is concentrated. Light straw color or lighter is dilute and desirable
- Odor - Concentrated urine tends to smell stronger. Dilute urine is nearly odorless
- Specific gravity - can be measured with urine dipsticks in your doctors office
Ways to increase your fluid intake
Increasing the amount of fluid you drink is effective for all types of kidney stones. While water is commonly recommended, all fluids are effective for increasing the amount of urine your body produces.
- Focus on starting a lifelong habit, rather than a short-term solution.
- Keep liquids on hand that you like.
- Drink out of larger glasses. You'll tend to drink more with each serving.
- Have an additional glass of fluid with each meal.
- Keep a water or drink bottle at work and fill it regularly.
- Drink from water fountains when you see them.
*If you are prone to fluid retention, consult your doctor before making changes to your fluid habits.
2. Maintain a normal calcium diet
When it comes to kidney stones, many doctors recommend maintaining a normal calcium intake. Researchers have found that people with low calcium intakes tend to have more stones. Foods with high calcium content include:
- Dairy products (including milk, cheese and yogurt)
- Meat and fish
- Enriched cereals
What about calcium supplements?
Many people take calcium supplements, either on their own or as prescribed by a doctor. Research has indicated that calcium supplements do not usually pose a risk for stone formation.
3. Avoid excess salt
Salt (sodium chloride) is found in abundance in many foods. High sodium levels in the urine can interfere with the kidney's handling of calcium. High urine sodium levels can make it easier for uric acid crystals to form. They can grow into stones or act as seeds for calcium stones.
Tips for reducing the salt in your diet:
- Don't use salt at the table
- Reduce the salt used in food preparation. Try 1/2 teaspoon when recipes call for 1 teaspoon.
- Use herbs and spices for flavoring instead of salt.
- Avoid salty foods
- Check the label before you buy or use a product. Note sodium and portion size information
Foods with high sodium content include:
- Processed meat (including luncheon meats, sausage)
- Instant cereal
- Processed cheese
- Canned soups
- Chips and snack foods
- Soy sauce
Foods with low sodium content include:
- Fresh meat
- Unsalted crackers
- Fruits and vegetables - fresh or frozen
- Hard candy
- Salt substitutes
4. Lose weight if you are overweight