From Dr. Mercola:

By Dr. Mercola

About 13 percent of US men and 7 percent of women will get kidney stones at some point during their lifetime.1 If you’ve had one, it’s an experience you probably don’t want to repeat.

The pain associated with kidney stones can be excruciating and in some cases may send you to the emergency room seeking treatment. Although most kidney stones do pass on their own without causing lasting damage, if you don’t make any changes they may occur again within five years in up to 50 percent of people.

What Exactly Are Kidney Stones?

Kidney stones are masses of minerals, typically calcium and oxalate, that become lodged in your urinary tract. Usually, compounds in your urine inhibit these crystals from forming.

Some people form stones when their urine contains more crystal-forming substances, such as calcium and uric acid, than the available fluid can dilute. If the stone is large enough to cause irritation or blockage, severe pain will typically result. The pain may shift to different locations and change in intensity as the stones move about. Other symptoms of kidney stones include:2

Severe pain in the side and back, below the ribs Pain that spreads to the lower abdomen and groin Pain that comes in waves and fluctuates in intensity Pain on urination Pink, red, or brown urine Cloudy or foul-smelling urine Nausea and vomiting Persistent need to urinate Urinating more often than usual Fever and chills if an infection is present Urinating small amounts of urine 13 Weird Kidney Stone Risk Factors

What makes some people more prone to developing kidney stones than others? There are some surprising risk factors to be aware of, recently compiled by TIME:3

1. Not Enough Calcium

Most kidney stones are made out of calcium, so it would seem that consuming too much could be problematic. On the contrary, people eating a low-calcium diet are more likely to develop kidney stones than those consuming more calcium.4

It turns out that calcium in your digestive tract binds to chemicals called oxalates from your food, preventing them from entering your bloodstream and urinary tract where they may form kidney stones.5

It is important to note that it is the calcium from foods that is beneficial – not calcium supplements, which have actually been found to increase your risk of kidney stones by 20 percent.6

2. An Obsession with Leafy Greens

Leafy greens, particularly spinach, are high in oxalates. These chemicals bind with calcium and should be excreted via your urinary tract, but if their concentrations become elevated they can concentrate in your urine and form kidney stones.

Leafy greens are clearly among the healthiest foods you can eat, but if you struggle with kidney stones you might want to swap higher oxalate greens like spinach, for lower-oxalate options, like kale.

3. Too Much Processed Salt

Salt, particularly unprocessed natural varieties, has been unfairly targeted as a root source of chronic disease. However, excess sodium intake can

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