Christmas is not just a holiday for Filipinos – it is a time of celebration and revelry, of coming home and spending time with family, friends, and loved ones. That is usually done in a variety of ways, like throwing parties, singing karaoke, and of course, eating and drinking. A Filipino Christmas is not complete without a feast!
While Christmas is indeed the season to be jolly, it is important to keep oneself in check, especially when it comes to what we eat and how much. Delicious and savory meals might also be high in sodium or sugar content, which may actually increase the risk of developing kidney stones.
“Sometimes, even our favorite food can cause harm to our bodily functions if we eat too much of it,” said Cardinal Santos Medical Center’s (CSMC) Chief of the Section of Urology, Dr. Jason L. Letran. “An uptick in dietary sodium content increases the amount of calcium excretion in the urine, while an excess of sugar can cause increased urine calcium and decreased urine volume, a perfect scenario for urinary stone formation.”
Kidney stones are usually formed when urine has an abundance of crystal-forming substances in it, like calcium, oxalate and uric acid, and not enough fluid to dilute them. This can cause them to bind together and harden.
“Some major dietary aggressors are large amounts of red meat, nuts, seafood, and shellfish because of the sodium and uric acid content. Junk foods and highly processed foods, too,” said Dr. Letran. “Of course, too much sugar is also bad for the body. It increases your risk of packing on weight, and obesity makes you more prone to developing stones.”
The best way to prevent kidney stones this holiday season, according to Dr. Letran, is to prepare healthier food options, watch your portions, eat responsibly and proper hydration.
“Softdrinks and drinks with alcoholic content are the staples for Filipino families during a Christmas party, so make sure that there is also clean drinking water available. I even personally recommend avoiding those drinks altogether,” said Dr. Letran. “It’s also important not to skip out on the fruits and vegetables, especially citrus fruits, as the citric acid alkalinizes the urine and is a natural inhibitor of stone formation.
“It’s also a common misconception that milk and dairy products can cause kidney stones, because it contains calcium. That’s only partially true,” he added. “The body still needs calcium, and proteins and oxalate can be found in foods that are actually healthy for the body, like peanuts, beans, spinach and strawberries. The solution is to consume moderate amount of calcium-rich foods with oxalate-rich foods, so that they bind together in the gut and get digested properly, instead of being excreted in the kidney.”
Finally, in the event that you come to pass a kidney stone or suspect you may have one, it is best to seek advice and treatment from a reputable hospital.
CSMC’s Urology and Stone Center offers some of the most comprehensive urological services, not just in the Philippines, but in Asia. Apart from services such as minimally invasive surgeries of the genito-urinary tract for both benign and malignant conditions, it offers various treatments for prostate cancer such as surgery, external beam radiation and brachytherapy. The center also houses a state-of-the-art Richard Wolf Piezolith 3000 Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL) machine which ensures precise and effective disintegration of kidney stones, and is equipped with fluoroscopy and ultrasound imaging to help locate stones more accurately.
“While of course, we advocate for the prevention of kidney stones by making healthier lifestyle choices, we hope patients know that CSMC is happy to offer its services to those who need it, especially those who are currently suffering from kidney stones or are exhibiting symptoms,”
said Dr. Letran. “Patients are assured that they will receive the best possible care here.”