Q. My husband has suffered from recurring kidney stones since 1970 and has had five bad attacks. We were warned that they would return and he was told to avoid calcium and drink plenty of water. He keeps getting urine infections and we know these can increase stone formation. Can you help? Mrs J. Johnson. Leicester.
A. Most kidney stone sufferers are told to avoid calcium, as stones are usually made up of calcium oxalate, but the calcium per se is not the problem. When calcium is not being utilised properly by the body, then it can begin forming crystal deposits in the wrong places, such as the kidneys, the joints (as in frozen shoulder) and even in the arteries.
A recent study has shown that calcium supplements in a citrate or malate – easily absorbable forms- are protective against stone formation, and that many sufferers are also low in magnesium and vitamin B6. Soft water areas have a higher incidence of kidney stones. You would be wise to fit a good quality Reverse Osmosis water filter – for details call Pure H2O on 01784 2211 88. He would need to drink at least 6 glasses of water during any 24 hour period.
Meanwhile, your husband should avoid too much animal protein, excessive salt (sodium) and sugar, saturated fats and alcohol. Foods high in oxalic acid such as beans, cocoa, instant coffee, parsley, rhubarb, spinach, beetroot and tea should be avoided. Above all he needs to avoid ‘white foods’ – white cakes, biscuits etc. In Third World countries where fibre intake is high, kidney stones are virtually unknown, therefore make sure his diet includes plenty of fibre from unrefined cereals and muesli, rice or oat bran, brown rice and bread, barley, organic soya beans, fruits and vegetables, plus linseeds (Linusit Gold), sunflower and pumpkin seeds and their unrefined oils – rich in essential fatty acids that help prevent stone formation.
His supplements should include Solgar’s Magnesium/Calcium 2 to 1 tablets (1000mg of magnesium and 500mg of calcium) one daily, plus 50mg of B6 and a good quality multi vitamin and mineral. You can also try silica and calcium fluoride tissue salts/ a/v from good chemists- 4 of each daily- which helps to break down kidney stones.
To help prevent further bladder infections, he can drink low sugar cranberry juice or take the tablets daily for several weeks – as cranberries contain hippuric acid which prevent bacteria clinging to the bladder walls. If he has been prescribed antibiotics during the past year, he will also need to eat plenty of live-bio yoghurts. Regular exercise also helps. For further help read The Optimum Nutrition Bible by Patrick Holford £14-99. Piatkus.