Having kidney stones can be painful and that can reoccur several times in your life. You can take steps to prevent kidney stones from forming and break the cycle, and here I have written 5 ways to do so.
What are kidney stones?
Kidney stones are tiny sediments that are made of minerals and salt. If you see it using ultrasound, they look like little stones inside your kidney. Smaller kidney stones can easily be flushed away by drinking lots of water. However, the bigger ones can lead to other issues alongside pain such as 
- Blocked urethra; the tube that lets your pee out.
- Nausea and vomiting that is caused by infection.
- Blood in your urine.
- Chills and fever.
80% of people have calcium stones
Usually caused by having too much vitamin D in your diet. You may be eating some fruits, vegetables, nuts and chocolates that are high in oxalate content (a type of calcium found in plants).
Several metabolism problems can also cause you to produce too much calcium phosphate that leads to the development of kidney stones.
5% to 10% of people have struvite stones
These types of kidney stones are usually caused by infections, such as UTI (urinary tract infection). Struvite stones also can grow bigger while only showing a few symptoms.
10% of people have uric acid stones
These types of kidney stones are usually caused by lack of water that flows through the kidney. It can also occur if you consume too much protein in your diet.
In addition, some people also have kidney stones that they inherit from their family. That type of kidney stones is called cystine stones.
What causes kidney stones?
There are a lot of factors as to what causes kidney stones to form. That being said, you are likely to have kidney stones if: 
- Your diet involves lots of sodium, protein, and sugar but low on fibre
- You don’t drink enough water
- You are inactive, or lack exercise
- You have had several kidney infections
- You have had kidney stones
- You have a family history of having kidney stones
Have a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)? Learn about whether you can treat UTI without antibiotics
So, what type of diet do I follow to prevent kidney stones?
1. Drink plenty of water
Water helps in diluting the substances that can become stones by urinating. Make sure that you are well hydrated in order to flush out your urinary system and minimise the risk of the substance becoming kidney stones.
2. Get enough calcium
In some cases, having a lack of calcium can cause an imbalance in your oxalate level. To prevent oxalate levels in your body from rising, make sure you have enough calcium according to your age. That way, your calcium levels and oxalate levels can be balanced.
3. Reduce your sodium intake
Having too much sodium can lead to the formation of kidney stones as it can increase the production of calcium in your body. Therefore, you need to reduce the amount of sodium that you take to 2,300 Mg. Sometimes you’ll need to go even lower, to 1,500 Mg, if you have had problems with kidney stones in the past.
4. Avoid foods that can form a kidney stone
There are several types of food that can increase your risk of developing kidney stones, such as:
- Most nuts, etc.
You need to reduce the intake of food listed above or avoid eating them at all if you’ve had previous problems with kidney stones.
5. Reduce protein and increase fibre intake
Following a healthy diet means that you also need to reduce the protein intake that comes from red meat, animal organs, poultry, and shellfish. Instead, try to eat more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and low-fat products.
You also need to avoid artificially-sweetened food and drinks as well as limiting your alcohol intake.
Preventing kidney stones is not hard, but you need to be determined in order to succeed. I would suggest you consult your doctor to ask about the appropriate diet and ask for what kind of food to reduce and avoid if you previously have had kidney stones.
Dr Lincoln Tan is a urologist at Tan Urology, Gleneagles Medical Centre. He specializes in urologic cancer care and treatment. On top of his practice, he is also the chairman of the Singapore Cancer Society’s (SCS) Prostate Cancer Survivorship Advisory Panel.
His current research interest lies in advanced prostate cancer diagnostics to reduce unnecessary prostate biopsies. He was the principal investigator in the first Singaporean based study to validate the use of Prostate Health Index. On top of that, he has also participated and obtained awards in multiple talks and conferences around the region