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Health Beat: 3 easy ways to prevent kidney stones

By Melanie Falcon, Anchor / Reporter, @Melanie_Falcon, MFalcon@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 06:35:04 AM CST
Updated On: Sep 20 2013 03:36:47 PM CDT

More than a million people are sent to the hospital each year for treatment of kidney stones.

DURHAM, N.C. -

More than a million people are sent to the hospital each year for treatment of kidney stones, and once you’ve had one, your chances of getting them again are about 75 percent. There are, however, some easy dietary changes you can do to avoid them.

You won’t catch Wajiha Khan without a bottle of water, not after experiencing what she calls the worst pain of her life.

"It's just one of those things. You just want someone to rip it out of you," Khan said.

"It" turned out to be three kidney stones the size of a pen tip.

Duke University's Dr. Michael Lipkin said one in 10 people will get a kidney stone, a hard mass formed from crystals that separate from your urine.

His top three tips for preventing these stones is to first drink up. 

"I don't care what you drink, just drink a lot," said Lipkin, an assistant professor of urology at Duke University Medical Center.

That means at least three liters a day, water is best. His second tip is to stock up on lemons.

"Lemon has something called citrate, and citrate is an inhibitor of stone formation," Lipkin said.

You can put them in your water or make your own lemonade. Limes and oranges also contain citrate, and so do some lemon-lime sodas, like Sprite or 7-Up. The best soda to fight stones, however, is diet orange soda.

"Diet orange soda contributed the most citrate to the urine," Lipkin explained.

Finally, watch out for sodium. It increases calcium in your urine and can lead to stones. Also, it's not just what you're salting. The top unknown culprits are bread and cheese.

"In fact, a slice of pizza has about a thousand milligrams of sodium, which is about 50 percent of your USDA daily allotment," Lipkin said.

So, check your labels and drink up. That’s what Wajiha does.

"I don’t want another one and wouldn't wish it on anybody," Wajiha said.

Lipkin also recommends cutting down on nuts if you're prone to stones. Nuts are rich in oxalate, which can cause stones to form. If you do eat nuts, drink a glass of milk with them. The calcium in the milk will bind the oxalate and help prevent your body from absorbing it.

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