What you should know to avoid kidney stones

Stones, or urinary tract calculi, don’t usually cause symptoms as long as they stay in the kidney. But if they migrate down into the ureter, the tiny tube that connects the kidneys to the bladder, trouble begins. As the stones try to wiggle their way down the narrow passageway, spasms of pain result; and the bigger the stone the worse.

Just because we are in the midst of a viral pandemic, doesn’t make other conditions less important. Especially if you have that condition.

Most people don’t worry much about kidney stones -until you have one. And once you have one, and get over it, you tend to forget about it. At least until the next time, which happens to at least 30% of those affected.

Big rocks on a grassy slope
Stones, but not renal calculi
What are kidney stones?

Stones, or urinary tract calculi, don’t usually cause symptoms as long as they stay in the kidney. But if they migrate down into the ureter, the tiny tube that connects the kidneys to the bladder, trouble begins. As the stones try to wiggle their way down the narrow passageway, spasms of pain result; and the bigger the stone the worse.

kidneys and urinary system graphic
The urinary tract- kidney, ureters and bladder

Fortunately, most stones less than 10 mm, or about 3/8 of an inch, eventually pass into the bladder and out the body through the urethra. Some get stuck and must be removed. Occasionally, large stones can block the kidney, leading to infection. But , once you have had a stone, you want to prevent another.

What causes kidney stones?

We know what substances cause most stones- chemicals that normally pass through the urine but  sometimes build up, harden and form into tiny rock -like structures called calculi. 95% of stones contain calcium, while the other 5% are made of uric acid a few other minerals.

5 tips to keep away kidney stones-watercresswords.com
Steps to stopping kidney stones

These steps can lessen the risk of new stones in people who have already had one. We don’t know if it applies to people who have never had any stones. Check with your doctor to see if any of these are right for you.

Drink enough water to produce 2-2.5 quarts/liters of urine every day.

A high fluid, preferably water, intake can prevent build up of these stone causing chemicals. At least 2 quarts/liters daily is recommended, more if one does heavy physical activity , sports, or lives in a hot climate.

Limit the amount of sodium, salt, in the diet.

Since the majority of stones contain calcium, it might make sense to limit calcium. But the kidneys spend more time filtering sodium; so with less sodium, more calcium can  be flushed away and so it’s not making stones.  Here are 5 tips to reduce salt intake from WebMD.

Limit intake of oxalate rich foods.

Oxalate, combined with calcium, is another chemical found in kidney stones. It comes from eating rhubarb, spinach, tea, nuts and cocoa.

Although watercress and other greens contain oxalate, it’s probably not necessary to avoid them entirely; they also are a good source of calcium which attaches to the oxalate, removing both from the body. Moderate amounts with adequate fluid intake should be safe, unless your doctor tells your otherwise.

Limit intake of certain animal proteins.

High purine foods can cause the less common uric acid stones. To prevent uric acid stones, cut down on high-purine foods such as red meat, organ meats, beer/alcoholic beverages, meat-based gravies, sardines, anchovies and shellfish.

a basket filled with fruits and vegetables
a LIGHTSTOCK.COM image, an affiliate link for stock photos and other media
Eat a whole foods, plant based diet.

  • Follow a healthy diet plan that has mostly vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products.
  • Limit sugar-sweetened foods and drinks, especially those that have high fructose corn syrup.
  • Limit alcohol because it can increase uric acid levels in the blood and avoid short term diets for the same reason.
  • Drink beverages with lime and lemon juice.

This information is current as of the publication date; it is general medical information that helps a doctors and patients make decisions about what is right for them. Medical recommendations and practice changes as we learn new things. If you deal with any of these issues , please discuss with your doctor before taking any action.

Get expert advice about kidney stones at these links.

Eating tips from the National Kidney Foundation

Watch a brief video about kidney stones from MedlinePlus  here.

Print a PDF handout at this link-  Preventing Kidney Stones -from the American Academy of Family Physicians

Doe and Faun White-tailed deer drinking at a farm pond in Stanly Co., NC on Aug. 19, 2000.
Doe and Faun White-tailed deer drinking at a farm pond in Stanly Co., NC on Aug. 19, 2000. copyright Daniel E. Wray

I don’t know if deer get kidney stones, but if so, they are doing the right thing. I like this photo which is also from the LIGHTSTOCK.COM collection.

exploring the HEART of health

Thank you for joining me to explore the HEART of health. I hope you’ve learned something new about kidney stones; I hope you never have one! Please contact me about topics you want to read about.

Thanks for following this blog. If you’re visiting, I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me. I also want you to find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest , Instagram, and LinkedIn .

                              Dr. Aletha 

How to use watercress and other greens-and why you should

Greens are a superfood because they are so nutritious, are inexpensive to grow, and come in many varieties with a broad diversity of flavors and textures.

Despite the name, this blog isn’t about watercress, but is like watercress-unique, peppery, bright and nutritious. And as a physician blogger, I want to know more about the health benefits (and possible dangers) from watercress.

So while searching for information about watercress, I found an intriguing book,

the book of greens-a cook’s compendium

More specifically, it is

“A cook’s compendium of 40 varieties, from Arugula to Watercress, with more than 175 recipes” from the title page

The authors

Jenn Louis has competed on Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters,” was named one of Food & Wine’s “Best New Chefs,” and has earned two nominations for the James Beard Foundation Award of Best Chef: Northwest. Her debut cookbook, Pasta By Hand published in 2015, was nominated for an IACP from the International Association of Culinary Professionals and this, her second book, debuted in April 2017 and won an IACP award. The book was also nominated for a James Beard Award.

She has owned and operated three restaurants and a catering business in Portland, Oregon. Jenn is actively involved with nonprofits including World Central Kitchen, Alex’s Lemonade and Share Our Strength.

Kathleen Squires is a food and travel writer from New York City. She has coauthored The Coolhaus Ice Cream Book, The Quick Six Fix, and The Journey, which won an IACP award.

Why write about greens?

The Book of Greens is about 40 different varieties of greens; some you probably already know and use-

  • arugula
  • bok choy
  • Brussels sprouts
  • cabbage
  • kale
  • lettuces
  • spinach

Others are less known and used, at least to me-

  • agretti
  • chickweed
  • mache
  • mizuna
  • seaweed
  • succulents
  • wild and foraged greens
Greens are a superfood because they are so nutritious, are inexpensive to grow, and come in many varieties with a broad diversity of flavors and textures. Jenn Louis

green leafy vegetables
image from LIGHTSTOCK.COM, stock photo site, an affiliate link

What’s in The Book of Greens?

This book is a cookbook, not a textbook on greens, so it features recipes, some simple, some complicated, but all incorporating some variety of greens. She starts by covering some cooking basics as it applies to greens-

  • How to buy greens-fresh, in small quantities
  • How to prepare-clean and handle them gently
  • How to cook-which methods work best for each variety
  • Storage of greens
  • Tools to use in prep and cooking
  • Notes on common ingredients used in cooking greens-oils, spices, salts, stocks, vinegars
  • Seasons-when to buy

Watercress basics –Nasturtium officinale

an ultrapeppery, strong-stemmed green, one of the oldest documented greens, dating back to ancient Greece, Rome, and Persia page 271
  • most often used in salads and sandwiches, and pureed as a soup
  • used in sandwiches for British afternoon tea
  • prescribed by Hippocrates (an ancient Greece physician, considered the father of medicine)
  • used by Captain Cook’s crew to prevent scurvy

This last point was likely due to its Vitamin C content; a deficiency causes the disease scurvy. It also is rich in other vitamins- A, B, E, K, and the minerals calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and manganese. Some experts call it the most nutrient-rich vegetable.

How to use watercress

Watercress grows in the spring and fall in North America. She calls it a tender green which can be eaten raw or cooked. Best cooking methods are

  • lightly sauteed
  • wilted in soups
  • quickly steamed
  • quickly stir-fried over very high heat

Watercress recipes in this book

  • Chicken and pork belly paella with watercress
  • Slow-roasted pork tonnato with watercress and tomatoes
  • Watercress soup with creme fraiche and za’atar

Wild watercress-Nasturtium microphyllium

This watercress relative grows wild, rather than cultivated. It has a “more intense peppery and piquant flavor.” It grows in any watery terraine-streams, lakes, ponds. (Edible wild greens must be chosen carefully, so as not to confuse them with poisonous plants.)

In addition to the authors, the photographer, Ed Anderson, deserves special recognition. His photos of the greens and the finished recipes make this a “coffee table book”, even if you never try a single recipe.

Also by Jenn louis, pasta by hand

Other posts on this blog about watercress

powerhouse vegetables

“A 2014 research study tried to determine exactly which fruits and vegetables were most likely to keep us healthy.

They defined  “powerhouse fruits and vegetables” as those  highest in nutrients, specifically the minerals potassium, calcium, iron and zinc and vitamins A,B,C, D, E and K. ” continue reading at the link above

exploring the HEART of healthy cooking

Thanks for following this blog. If you’re visiting, I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me. I also want you to find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest , Instagram, and LinkedIn .

                              Dr. Aletha 

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