5 Summertime Tips to Prevent Kidney Stones

Heat, sweat, and dehydration can lead to a painful condition. Here's how to protect yourself.

A lab scientist holds a kidney stone for display.

A lab scientist holds a kidney stone for display.

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Summer heat, sweat, and dehydration have always been a perfect recipe for kidney stones. And as the world warms, scientists now say, those painful formations will become more common. Since it's as important as ever to take precautions, here are five tips:

1. Drink a lot of water. For people with a history of kidney stones, the Mayo Clinic recommends drinking 14 cups of fluid a day.

2. Don't shy away from lemonade. Lemonade increases levels of citrate in the urine, a substance that helps prevent kidney stone formation.

3. Avoid food high in oxalate. If you're prone to calcium oxalate stones, you may want to avoid foods high in oxalate. The NIH keeps a list of foods high in oxalate that includes (from higher oxalate to lower): rhubarb, spinach, beets, swiss chard, wheat germ, soybean crackers, peanuts, okra, chocolate, black Indian tea, and sweet potatoes.

4. Eat less salt. The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends that people not eat more than 1,500 mg of salt per day (about 1 teaspoon). According to the Cleveland Clinic, eating too much salt can lead to excess calcium in the bloodstream, a situation that can cause the development of stones.

5. Cut back on meat. The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends no more than two servings a day. The breakdown of proteins in red meat forms uric acid, a substance that, in excess, can produce uric acid stones, as well as gout.

Sources: the Mayo Clinic, the National Institutes of Health, the Cleveland Clinic, and the American Academy of Family Physicians.

For more: Check out the U.S. News's Kidney Stone Channel or read this week's news about kidney stones.