Kidney stones are small, hard, painful masses that are formed in the kidneys. How do they form? There are several different ways for kidney stones to form, one of the main reasons is having too much of certain minerals in your system.

Genes can play a role, too. Forty percent of the people who get kidney stones have relatives who have them, too. Their bodies may get rid of too much calcium or too little citrate (a chemical found in citrus fruits) in their pee, for instance.

One top reason of developing kidney stones is you may not be drinking enough water. That means you’ll make too little pee, which gives the stones more chances to form. Eating foods high in oxalates, which are organic compounds found in foods like spinach and sweet potatoes, can also help in the formation of kidney stones. The oxalates have a tendency to bind with other minerals, like calcium, which can form kidney stones.

Foods high in sodium can be a problem as well. Lots of sodium means more calcium in your pee. Eating calcium-rich foods like kale and salmon isn’t a bad thing — just when you also eat too much salt. Too little calcium in your diet may lead to kidney stones in certain people.

Choosing foods wisely will be your best defense against kidney stones. Usually it’s good to get more spinach and nuts in your diet. But if you have calcium oxalate stones, which are the most common type, your doctor may tell you to avoid or limit foods high in oxalates:

  • Nuts, including almonds, cashews, pistachios, and peanuts
  • Soy products, including soy burger, soy milk, and soy cheese
  • Chocolate
  • Oat and oat bran
  • Red kidney beans, navy beans, fava beans
  • Beets, spinach, kale, tomato

These foods are low in oxalates. Caution: Too much dairy foods and animal protein can up your chances of less common types of kidney stones:

  • Grapes, melon, bananas
  • Cucumbers, cauliflower, cabbage, peas
  • Cheese, milk, butter
  • Beef, bacon, chicken, ham

helpful nutritional facts from healthy lifestyle secretsSecret: Lemons and limes are high in citrate, which helps prevent kidney stones.

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