A kidney stone is a hard, crystalline mineral material formed within the kidney or urinary tract. The medical term being Nephrolithiasis. One in every 20 people develops kidney stones at some point in their life and these stones form when there is a decrease in urine volume and/or an excess of stone-forming substances in the urine. When you have these hard mineral deposits inside your kidneys, it causes excruciating pain when they pass through your urinary tract.

There is no sure way to prevent kidney stones, especially if you have a family history of the condition but a combination of diet and lifestyle changes, as well as some medications, may help reduce your risk and prevent the stones naturally. Here are small adjustments you can make to your current diet and nutrition plan that will go a long way towards preventing kidney stones.

Stay Hydrated: Drinking more water is the best way to prevent kidney stones. If you don’t drink enough, your urine output will be low. Low urine output means your urine is more concentrated and less likely to dissolve urine salts that cause stones. You can tell whether you are hydrated by looking at the color of your urine. It should be clear or pale yellow. If it’s dark, you need to drink more. Drink two glasses of water at bedtime and an additional glass at each nighttime awakening to prevent urine from becoming too concentrated during the night.

Eat Less Sodium: A high-salt diet increases your risk of calcium kidney stones. Eating too much salt in the urine prevents calcium from being absorbed from the urine to the blood. This causes high urine calcium, which may lead to kidney stones. Eating less salt helps keep urine calcium levels lower. The lower the urine calcium, the lower the risk of developing kidney stones. A sodium intake of 3 to 4g/day is recommended. Table salt and high sodium foods should be reduced, because sodium competes with calcium for reabsorption in the kidneys.

Eat fewer oxalate-rich foods: Avoid intake of oxalate-containing foods (e.g. spinach, strawberries, tea, peanuts, wheat bran. Some kidney stones are made of oxalate, a natural compound found in foods that bind with calcium in the urine to form kidney stones.

Eat less animal protein: Food high in animal protein are acidic and may increase urine acid. High urine acid cay cause both uric acid and calcium oxalate kidney stones. You should try to limit or avoid beef, poultry, fish, and pork. Usually protein is restricted to 60g/day to decrease urinary excretion of calcium and uric acid.

Eat more calcium-rich foods: The most common type of kidney stone is the calcium oxalate stone, leading many people to believe they should avoid eating calcium. This isn’t true. Low calcium diets may increase the kidney stone risk and also risk of osteoporosis. Calcium supplements, however, may increase your risk of stones. Taking calcium supplements with a meal may help reduce that risk.

Prevent excessive sweating: Avoid activities leading to sudden increase in environmental temperatures that may cause excessive sweating and dehydration.

Early Detection: Contact your health care provider at the first sign of a urinary tract infection.