Most people have two kidneys, which “clean” the blood. They filter out water and waste products, making urine.
Kidney stones are fairly common, occurring in about 12 in every 100 men and 4 in every 100 women in the UK at some point in their life.
Kidney stones are small, solid masses that form when salts or minerals normally found in urine become solid crystals (crystallise) inside the kidney. In most cases, the crystals are too tiny to be noticed, and pass harmlessly out of your body. However, they can build up inside your kidney and form much larger stones.
Kidney stones are usually painless when in the kidney but can cause severe pain as they travel from the kidneys to the bladder. An attack of this pain is called renal or uteric colic.
If a stone gets stuck in the ureter, this can cause an infection which can lead to permanent kidney damage.
Many kidney stones don’t move and are too small to cause any symptoms. However, if a kidney stone causes a blockage, or moves into the ureter, it may cause some of the following symptoms
- Severe pain or aching in the back on one or both sides
- Sudden spasms of excruciating pain, usually starting in the back below the ribs and radiating around the abdomen, sometimes to the groin and genitalia
- Bloody, cloudy or smelly urine
- Feeling or being sick
- A frequent urge to urinate, or a burning sensation during urination
- Fever and chills
These can also be symptoms of a urinary tract infection, or cystitis, which is much more common than kidney stones in young women. If you have one or more of these symptoms you should seek medical advice.
Dehydration – Not consuming enough water leads to more concentrated urine. The more concentrated the urine the greater the chance of forming kidney stones. Gradually increasing your water consumption can help to dilute the urine and reduce the prevalence of stone formation
Poor diet – A diet low in fibre and high in protein creates a lot of work for the kidneys and can contribute to stone formation. In addition there are certain foods such as those containing substances called oxalates and purines that can increase the chance stone formation. If you suffer from kidney stones or have a family history of the condition you might like to talk to a nutritional therapist who can advise you on the best diet for kidney health.
Mineral imbalance – An excess of the mineral calcium or improper distribution of calcium in the body can also contribute to kidney stones. Mineral imbalances can be detected using a hair mineral analysis. The results can then be interpreted by Smart Nutrition who will help you make the necessary dietary adjustments to ensure proper calcium utilisation. Hair Mineral Analysis.
Blood sugar imbalance – When you eat starchy/sweet foods or alcohol they are broken down in the body into a sugar called glucose. This is carried around in the blood stream and taken to cells which use it for energy. The level of glucose is the blood is carefully controlled by a hormone called insulin. After we eat, the amount of glucose in the blood rises. Insulin is released to bring blood glucose levels back down to ‘normal’ levels. However, if blood sugar rises too rapidly, the body can end up releasing too much insulin. This causes the blood sugar to swing to low again, making us feel tired, grumpy and hungry again. This is sometimes referred to as the blood sugar rollercoaster. One of the downsides of excess insulin is that is causes extra calcium to be lost in the urine. This extra calcium has to go out via the kidneys, increasing the risk of stone formation. If you suffer from the symptoms associated with blood sugar imbalance you should consider a nutrition consultation to get advice on how to even out you blood sugar levels. Book a Consultation.
Urinary Tract Infections – One type of kidney stone can form during a urinary tract infection. If you suffer from recurrent urinary tract infections such as cystitis, you’re at greater risk of forming this kind of stone. Luckily there are many natural ways in which you can support a healthy urinary tract and decrease the risk of infections. Book a Consultation.
Smoking – Cigarettes contain the toxic metal cadmium which has been linked to kidney stone formation. Avoiding smoking is a key consideration for kidney stone sufferers, but not always an easy step to take. Working with a nutritional therapist can be of great support during the process of quitting smoking. With the help of diet and supplements it is possible to reduce cravings and support the body in its move to a healthier state.