(NaturalHealth365) Kidney stones – once a rare occurrence in children – are no longer uncommon. In fact, leading pediatric urologist Gregory E. Tasian, M.D., M.S.C.E., characterizes the current incidence of kidney stones among children as an “epidemic” – while noting that the overall prevalence of kidney stones has increased by 70 percent in the past 30 years. And, there is evidence that suggests that the use of antibiotics may be at least partially responsible.
A new study conducted by researchers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia shows a connection between antibiotics, gut health and the formation of kidney stones. And, with children aged 2 years and younger constituting the most frequent recipients of antibiotics, maybe the recent surge in occurrence of kidney stones isn’t such a mystery after all!
Antibiotics ALERT: What did the study show?
To conduct the study, which was published last May in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, researchers examined medical records of adults and children in the United Kingdom over a 21-year period (spanning from 1994 to 2015).
The team evaluated previous exposure to antibiotics in nearly 26,000 patients with kidney stones – and compared them with records of over 260,000 control subjects.
They found that five classes of antibiotic – oral sulfas, cephalosporins, fluoroquinolones, nitrofurantoin and broad-spectrum penicillins – were associated with a significantly heightened kidney stone risk – of up to 27 percent.
Disturbingly, researchers found that the highest risk was in younger patients who had recently been exposed to antibiotics. Also troubling is the fact that the risk remained elevated – even several years after antibiotic use.
Dr. Tasian, the study leader, noted that the research suggested that antibiotic prescription practices are a “modifiable risk factor” for kidney stones.
Exactly how does antibiotic use raise the likelihood of kidney stones?
Studies have shown that consuming antibiotics can disturb the all-important balance of the microbiome, the community of microbes living in the human body (mostly in the gastrointestinal tract).
While a healthy population of “friendly” bacteria boosts immunity, aids absorption of nutrients and even promotes clear thinking and stable mood, an unbalanced microbiome – one with a preponderance of “unfriendly” bacteria (pathogens) – can set the stage for leaky gut, autoimmune disease, dementia, cancer plus many other health issues.
Antibiotics not only create an environment that favors the growth of pathogens, but they also kill valuable “friendly” bacteria outright.
And, natural health experts report that a single course of antibiotics can affect the gut microbiome for up to a full year.
In addition, a study published in JAMA showed that fully 30 percent of antibiotics prescribed through office visits are inappropriate or unnecessary.
Experts predict: kidney stones will strike 10 percent of American adults
Kidney stones, also known as renal lithiasis, are deposits of minerals and salts that can block the urinary tract. Most are composed of calcium and oxalates. And, researchers say that they will affect one in ten American adults at some point in their lives.
These painful stones usually pass from the body without incident after a few days – but the process can be painful. In some cases, untreated kidney stones can progress to kidney damage, and even potentially life-threatening kidney failure.
Symptoms include severe pain in the lower back and sides, along with abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. Bloody or cloudy urine can also indicate kidney stones. Naturally, you should seek immediate medical attention for severe kidney stone symptoms.
Poor diet, dehydration, having certain medical conditions and taking calcium supplements and antacids are among the factors that can trigger kidney stones.
Refreshing remedy: Lemonade has been clinically shown to slow down – and even prevent – the formation of kidney stones
To combat kidney stones, many doctors prescribe potassium citrate, which increases urine citrate and lowers calcium excretion. As natural healers have long known, lemons, lemon juice and lemonade are also rich in citrate – along with beneficial antioxidants and flavonoids.
In fact, the prestigious Duke University Comprehensive Kidney Stone Center conducted a small study which showed that kidney stone patients on “lemonade therapy” experienced decreases in growth of kidney stones.
Preparing this sweet natural remedy couldn’t be much simpler. Simply mix half a cup of organic lemon juice with seven cups of pure, filtered water. Sweeten with a small amount of honey or stevia – and enjoy.
Here’s a health tip for you: If lemonade or lemon juice isn’t for you, pomegranate and cranberry juices also offer protective benefits against kidney stones. Some natural healers advise taking 400 mg of cranberry extract twice a day.
Key point: Fight kidney stones with proper nutrition and hydration
When it comes to avoiding kidney stones, eating a proper diet can pay big dividends.
Foods rich in magnesium and potassium – such as bananas, avocados and leafy greens – can help balance calcium levels and prevent kidney stones. Some natural healers also advise taking 250 mg of magnesium twice a day to alleviate kidney stones.
Important note: Some leafy greens and vegetables – including spinach, tomatoes and eggplant – can increase oxalate buildup in people susceptible to kidney stones. So, be sure to consult with a qualified healthcare provider for good nutritional advice.
It’s also helpful to strengthen the immune system (to avoid the use of kidney-stone promoting antibiotics) by eating naturally fermented foods, such as yogurt with active cultures, raw sauerkraut and kimchi.
Because B vitamins combat kidney stones by helping reduce the accumulation of calcium and oxalates, some integrative physicians recommend taking 50 mg of vitamin B6 a day.
When it comes to preventing kidney stones, what you avoid may be just as important as what you consume. Excess sodium, refined sugars, GMOs, trans (toxic) fats, processed foods and excessive amounts of any protein can all set the stage for kidney stones – and should be minimized from your diet.
Finally, the importance of drinking enough pure water can’t be overstated, with some integrative doctors advising drinking as much as 8 ounces every hour. Of course, herbal teas and sparkling, flavored water are tasty options as well.
The takeaway: Antibiotic use and misuse is not only contributing to the growing public health crisis of antibiotic resistance, but also may play a role in the increased incidence of kidney stones. And children appear to be most at risk. But, thankfully, we have safer options available to us.
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