Six ways to keep kidney stones at bay, from the Harvard Health Letter

There are worse things than kidney stones. But oh my, they can cause a lot of pain as they pass through the ureters, the tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder. And the number of Americans getting kidney stones is increasing, perhaps because of the increasing prevalence of obesity. According to the September 2011 Harvard Health Letter, once you get kidney stones, the chances of getting them again are high, so it's even better if you can avoid them in the first place with the following tips. 1. Keep your fluid intake up. Kidney stones form when certain minerals concentrate in the urine and form into crystals. Drink plenty of fluids (water is the safest bet) and you'll increase the amount of water in the urine, so those mineral concentrations don't get too high. 2. Eat calcium-rich foods. Calcium is a major component of most kidney stones, so it seems like you should avoid calcium in the diet, not seek it out. But most calcium stones are composed of calcium combined with a substance called oxalate. If there's plenty of calcium in your diet, the calcium binds to oxalate in the intestine before the oxalate has a chance to get into your urine. Good choices for calcium-rich foods include nonfat dairy products, leafy green vegetables, and some varieties of fish (salmon, for example).
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