What Causes Kidney Stones?

iStock_000080471251_Large-500x333If you ever had kidney stones, chances are you remember the painful experience well. Each year in the U.S., about a million cases are diagnosed at doctors’ offices and about 300,000 cases in emergency rooms.

Kidney stones are solid pieces of material that form in the kidneys when the urine becomes highly concentrated. A small stone my pass on its own, maybe even without you knowing. A larger stone may get stuck along the way. Both can cause blood in the urine and severe pain that is usually felt in the back or lower abdomen. Larger stones may require procedures to break them into smaller, passable sizes, or completely remove them.

Some people are more prone to kidney stones than others. If you have had a stone in the past, you are more likely to develop future stones. Family history also plays a role.  If you are one of these people, it’s important to watch what you eat, and drink plenty of water to avoid build-up of substances that cause stones. Prevention is key in stopping reoccurrences. Of those who had more than one kidney stone in their lives, about 15 percent didn’t take their prescribed prevention medications and 41 percent did not follow the nutritional advice of their doctor.

It’s important to keep in mind that there are different types of kidney stones that will come with different dietary recommendations. After your doctor analyzes the stone, he or she will let you know what changes to make in your diet. For example, people who form calcium oxalate stones – a common type of kidney stone – may be urged to moderate their consumption of foods like nuts, seeds, chocolate and tea or to consume oxalate and calcium-rich foods together. This helps the two substances bind together before they reach the kidneys, making the body less likely to form stones.  But the best way to prevent most types of stones is to drink plenty of water. Aim for 60-64 ounces per day, and more if you are sweating. How do you know if you are getting enough water? Your urine should be pale yellow to clear. Anything darker means you should, drink more water.

6 New Reasons to Try Yoga

iStock_000039178872_Large-500x334A central premise in yoga is “everything is connected.” That’s clear when you look at the health and fitness benefits of yoga that scientific research is confirming. Yoga is not just a way to stay fit — but an overall health aid. Here are some ways that yoga affects your health that you may not have considered:


  1. Stress Relief:  Yoga reduces the physical effects of stress on the body by encouraging relaxation and lowering the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Related benefits include lowering blood pressure and heart rate, improving digestion and boosting the immune system, as well as easing symptoms of conditions such as anxiety, depression, fatigue, asthma and insomnia.


  1. Pain Relief:  Yoga can ease pain. Studies have demonstrated that practicing yoga, meditation or a combination of the two, reduces pain for people with conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, auto-immune diseases and hypertension as well as arthritis, back and neck pain and other chronic conditions.


  1. Better Breathing:  Yoga teaches you to take slower, deeper breaths.  This helps to improve lung function and trigger the body’s relaxation response. It also helps improve circulation and more efficiently moves oxygenated blood to the body’s cells.


  1. Flexibility:  The goal is not to bend and stretch like a performer from Cirque du Soleil. Even slight gains in flexibility and mobility help increase range of movement and help to reduce aches and pains.


  1.  Better Body Alignment: Yoga brings awareness to body alignment, resulting in better posture and helping to relieve back, neck, joint and muscle problems that you are unknowingly causing yourself.


  1. Focus: Yoga helps us to focus on the present, to become more aware and to help create mind-body health. This helps to improve coordination, reaction time and memory.