The rates of kidney stones have been on the rise for years.  Several organizations, including the CDC and the Mayo Clinic have studied the prevalence of kidney stones.  Both found that the number of people experiencing kidney stones is increasing.

Researchers believe this is due to the decline in overall health for Americans. As a country, we’re eating more salty, processed foods, and drinking more sugary drinks. We’re also drinking less water. Those bad habits are leading to higher rates of certain health conditions like obesity and kidney stones.

Here are a few ways to reduce your risk of kidney stones.

Drink More Water

Staying hydrated is critical to prevent kidney stones.  If you don’t drink enough water, your urine becomes more concentrated and you’re more likely to develop kidney stones. 12-15 cups of water is sufficient for most adults. It doesn’t have to be plain water, but the fewer additives the better for preventing kidney stones. You should drink enough water throughout the day to keep your urine odorless and colorless.

Limit Salt Intake

Too much salt in your diet can increase your calcium levels which increases your risk of developing stones by decreasing the citrate in urine.  Limiting your daily sodium intake to 2300mg may help reduce your risk of kidney stones. People with high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease should limit sodium intake to 1500mg/day.

Keep Up with Calcium

Some people may try to reduce calcium to prevent stones, but this can do more harm than good.  Too little calcium can increase your risk of kidney stones, but so can too much. It’s best to get your calcium through calcium-rich foods like yogurt, cheese, or milk rather than calcium supplements.

Eat More Citrus Fruits

The citrate in citrus fruits binds with calcium, which means the calcium can’t bind with oxalate and create kidney stones. Lemon and lime are the most effective, followed by oranges and grapefruits.

Maintain A Healthy Body Weight

People who are obese are more likely to develop kidney stones. Getting regular exercise (Even a 30-minute daily walk) can help maintain a healthy weight or lose weight if necessary.

Read more about kidney stones.