I'm 19 years old, 140lbs, 5ft10, and pretty much healthy. I've been on paleo for about 3-4 months now, and for the most part I've stuck with it well. About 3 weeks ago I moved into my friend's house and got a job in the area. The past couple weeks I have been broke, so I have been eating more grains than usual. On most days I still eat mostly meat, like bacon and eggs, and some fruit, at least an apple a day. I don't drink milk much, if at all. But some days I will have a bun with my burger and other things like that (and the day before I went into the hospital in pain I had eaten a big bag of Airheads virtually by myself)
About two weeks ago I had severe lower left ab pain. It was the most excruciating experience of my life. I had someone drive me to the ER, and by the time I stood up to go inside, the pain was over, so I (stupidly) went home. I had gone again a few days later for something unrelated, and I told the doctor about it and she said she thought I passed a kidney stone. Just a couple days ago the same thing happened, only worse pain and for much longer time. And the doctor told me he thinks I had kidney stones but can't prove it because theres no blood in my urine.
Later my mom told me about how one cause of kidney stones is too much protein, and she thinks my diet may have something to do with it. So far I honestly don't know what to think, not only do different studies claim different things, but different studies even point to different causes! How am I supposed to know what is what? If I adhere to either one it will essentially be dogmatic since I have no way of telling which one is right or wrong.
Here is what I think is the cause: I just started working, and at my job I ask for the labor-like tasks (lifting heavy boxes, taking out the trash, etc.) to try and make up partially for my lack of a gym membership. Not only am I doing mostly these tasks, but I'm doing it for 4-6 hours without drinking water (I always forget to bring any, and there isn't a water fountain there) 4-5 days a week. So my guess is mild dehydration may be the culprit, but again I'm not certain.
Any ideas or helpful links?
asked byZack_2 (25)
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on August 17, 2011
at 11:01 PM
Dude, I totally feel your pain. Don't you just love how it comes in waves? It can get so bad that it actually feels good to vomit. At least then the spasms stop for a few seconds.
Having had several kidney stones myself (my first one at 18--missed high school graduation because of it), I've learned a few things about them and how to prevent them.
First, did you have your stone analyzed? There are two common types (and several other, less common ones), which are uric acid and oxalate stones. Oxalate is by far the most common, with uric acid stones coming in second place. Uric acid stones are generally caused by high protein intake (what your mom described), but with what you're describing as your recent menu, I'd bet it was an oxalate stone.
Calcium oxalate is a weird beast--these actually form not just from eating foods high in oxalates (spinach, beets, etc), but from chronic low-level dehydration, low dietary calcium intake, and overdoing it on sodium.
High intakes of dietary calcium do not appear to cause kidney stones and may actually protect against their development. This is perhaps related to the role of calcium in binding ingested oxalate in the gastrointestinal tract. As the amount of calcium intake decreases, the amount of oxalate available for absorption into the bloodstream increases; this oxalate is then excreted in greater amounts into the urine by the kidneys.
So, while it may seem counterintuitive, not having enough calcium in your diet can actually be the leading cause of oxalate stones. Couple that with mild dehydration (insufficient water intake or drinking diuretic beverages like soda, coffee and tea all day which increase urine output) and there you go.
Now, a lot of sources advise against taking calcium supplements if one is prone to stones. What they fail to mention is the type of supplements which should be avoided. The cheapest and easiest to obtain is calcium carbonate. That is also the least bioavailable form of calcium. In short, it sucks, don't take it. However, there is another, much better form of calcium, called citrate, plus the citrate actually competes with the oxalate in your bloodstream:
Other very important minerals are potassium and magnesium. If you're on Paleo you should be getting plenty of both from natural food sources. If not, I would recommend that you supplement
Another thing urologists fail to mention to kidney stone sufferers is elevated acidity throughout the body, caused by grains and sugars. Acidity will leech calcium from your bones and teeth (aka calcium), which can also lead to low calcium levels in the bloodstream. Which in turn increases the levels of oxalates in the urine (because remember, calcium and oxalates bind together in the gut).
So unless you want a repeat experience, my advice to you is--
Drop all candy
Drink 10-12 glasses of water a day (more depending on your activity level)
Do not drink any black tea or soda, ever.
Eat more fresh vegetables and fruits
Avoid all legumes (which you should be doing anyway). These also bind to calcium in the gut, which means that beneficial calcium is not able to prevent oxalates from forming.
Take a calcium citrate + magnesium supplement 2x/day, and make sure you're getting enough potassium. I recommend Citracal or a generic form. Print out a coupon from the site and pick up a bottle.
You don't have to limit high oxalate foods as long as you stay away from grains, sugars and get enough dietary calcium. Sorry, but milk doesn't cut it. It's also a poor form of calcium.
Since that first kidney stone I had in '00, I've had numerous UTI's (urinary tract infections), kidney infections, bladder infections, etc. Even hematuria, which is basically blood in the urine without sign of infection. Kidney stones can sit in the folds of your kidneys (calyces) for years, not moving or causing any real pain, just slowly accumulating oxalate build up and becoming larger. Strenuous activity can dislodge them, and that's when you feel the pain. The stones are what causes the blood in urine w/o infection, and this tends to stump most doctors. My most recent stone was in '09, and I'd kept having vague back pains & hematuria, until finally my GP referred me to a urologist who ordered a cystoscopy (where they stick a camera up your pee-hole). He'd seen evidence of recent stone passage (they leave little tears inside the urethra), so my GP ordered some CT scans done on me. Sure enough, there were two medium-sized stones, just chillin' in my right kidney. I had a lithotripsy which pulverized them, and after I'd peed out the grit I collected it and sent it to my urologist to have analyzed. Oxalate, big surprise! I actually took a picture of the blood I peed out after the procedure (they wanted to measure how much urine output to make sure my kidneys were functioning normally). It was pretty awesome.
Since I've gone Paleo, I haven't had a single UTI or stone since. My doc was abso-freaking-lutely thrilled when I came in for a check-up last December. "Hey, I haven't seen you in over a year! That's awesome!" lol
Excellent sources of potassium:
Coconuts and coconut water
Limes and lemons
Fresh seafood (tuna, tilapia, halibut, cod, salmon & clams(
Dates, raisins & figs
Chicken and pork
Parsnips and carrots
I'd also recommend buying a pack of urinary analysis sticks, so you can monitor your white blood cell count (indicating infection), red blood cells and protein levels in urine. A pack of 100ct costs about $15, and having those is what helped my and my doc figure out what the heck was going on with me.
on August 18, 2011
at 01:10 AM
Chris Masterjohn made a GREAT case for Vitamin K2 playing a huge role in preventing kidney stone formation.
The kidneys likewise accumulate large amounts of vitamin K2 and secrete vitamin K-dependent proteins that inhibit the formation of calcium salts. Patients with kidney stones secrete this protein in its inactive form, which is between four and twenty times less effective than its active form at inhibiting the growth of calcium oxalate crystals, suggesting that vitamin K2 deficiency is a major cause of kidney stones.
K2 helps the body assimilate calcium, which is the most prodigious form of kidney stones across the board. Calcium Oxalate is what they are made of. I should know because I have had 7 kidney stones, all calcium oxalate. Since going LC/Paleo, (which is also since I've began eating pasture butter and ghee and taking Green Pastures Royal Blend), I haven't had any and I don't expect any. I can feel when my kidney's are not happy, and they are much happier on a Paleo diet than SAD.
on August 17, 2011
at 09:48 PM
Sure that if you're dehydrated things like sodium or calcium are more likely to crystallize. I would also suggest you watch your oxalate intake (spinach, beets, swiss chard, rhubarb...etc).
on August 18, 2011
at 12:08 AM
Uric acid stones are not necessarily caused by by high protein intake. They can be caused by inadequate buffering of the urine enabling the existing uric acid (it's in everybody) to crystallize. My wife, who eats plenty of meat, had uric acid stones and her uric acid levels were normal.
on August 17, 2011
at 09:56 PM
Ascorbate intake increases the excretion of urates, which may be involved in your problem if it is kidney stones and they are of that type. Were I you, I'd cut back on all sugar, take a couple grams of sodium ascorbate a day and start supplementing with 200mcg of vitamin K-2 a day.
on August 17, 2011
at 09:46 PM
on August 18, 2011
at 12:55 AM
Increase your intake of Vit C to about 5-10 grams daily.