phosphoric acid

  1. How to avoid kidney stones

    Here's another "side effect" of the modern diet of processed foods: More people than ever are now experiencing the pain and misery of kidney stones.

    That pain is so excruciating it's been described as the only thing comparable to the pain of childbirth -- and some women tell me kidney stones were actually the more painful of the two.

    Yes, it's that bad. And now, new numbers show that 1 in 11 of us can expect to experience it, up from 1 in 20 just 16 years ago. Go back even earlier, and you'll find even fewer people had them.

    Why? Easy answer: Diet. The more junk we eat, the more likely we'll get kidney stones.

    We also get fatter, too, and UCLA researchers say their study confirms a link between obesity and kidney stones as well as both diabetes and gout and kidney stones.

    But the study in European Urology really tells only part of the story. It's not that these conditions alone are causing all those kidney stones (although they certainly don't help). It's that the same modern diet of processed foods rich in saturated fats and refined carbohydrates are causing all of those things at once.

    And that means eating better will slash your risk of obesity, diabetes, gout and kidney stones. It's like killing four birds with one (kidney) stone.

    But if you're already fighting recurring battles with stones, you'll need to take more specific action -- and you can start with two nutrients: vitamin B6 and magnesium.

    These nutrients work together to prevent the accumulation of calcium oxalate crystals in the kidneys. They're so effective that 500 mg of magnesium and 50 mg of B6 a day can reduce your risk of stones by 90 percent.

    If that's not enough to do the trick for you, you may need to take even more drastic action -- and along with eating better and losing weight, you'll want to avoid:

    Animal fats: Sorry, meat lovers -- animal fats and especially red meats can cause your body to excrete calcium. Before that calcium can leave the body, though, it has to pass through the kidneys -- where it can build up and form a stone.

    Dairy: The calcium found in some of the most common dairy products -- especially milk, cheese and ice cream -- is not as easily absorbed as other dietary sources of calcium. And when it's not absorbed, it heads right for the kidneys.

    Oxalic acid: You might think spinach, collards and celery are all healthy and for most people they are. But they also contain high levels of oxalic acid, and too much oxalic acid is a prime cause of kidney stones for those who are genetically susceptible.

    Other sources of oxalic acid include some of the antioxidant-rich "superfoods" -- including blueberries, almonds, and cocoa. That means if you're suffering from frequent stones, all those delicious treats will have to be limited.

    Sugar: High levels of sugar will suck the calcium right out of your bones and send it straight into your kidneys.

    Soda: Along with extra sugar, many sodas -- even diet sodas -- contain phosphoric acid, which can also increase your risk of stones.

    In addition, avoid alcohol, excess sodium, and caffeine as all three can dehydrate you -- and dehydration increases the concentration of minerals in the kidneys, which can then crystalize and form a stone.

    It's not the easiest diet in the world since the restricted list is pretty long. But if you've ever battled kidney stones, you know the alternative is a lot of pain and misery.

  2. Soda: still no good

    Ounce for ounce, there are few things in your home as bad for your body as soda.

    And new research is starting to show it's even worse than we thought.

    Soda has already been linked to a host of health problems, from obesity and diabetes to tooth decay and osteoporosis. And now, it's also being blamed for a horrible condition involving muscle weakness, cramps, palpitations and vomiting.

    This condition is called hypokalemia, and it's caused by a potassium deficiency.

    Excess soda appears to cause blood potassium levels to fall to dangerously low levels, according to a study published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice.

    Researchers looked at people who drank large amounts of soda – between two and nine liters per day – and discovered this connection. In at least two cases, soda-drinking patients who experienced hypokalemia were hospitalized when their potassium levels fell dangerously.

    Potassium is one of our most overlooked nutrients. I've found that most people not only misunderstand its importance, but they don't know how to get it in the proper amount.

    That's because the amount of potassium you need is also related to your sodium intake. Our potassium-to-sodium ratio should be 7-to-1, but for most of us that ratio is reversed as we eat salt-laden processed foods at the expense of this vital nutrient.

    Soda can also throw potassium levels out of whack. And when those servings are big enough, you've got a recipe for hypokalemia.

    But don't think you're in the clear just because you drink less soda. To me, even a teaspoon of this junk is way too much. So I'm absolutely horrified when I walk into a convenience store and see giant two-liter cups of sugary poison, meant for gulping down with an extra-wide straw.

    Remember, one of the key ingredients in most sodas is phosphoric acid, which has been linked to bone and kidney problems. Not only that, but industrial grade phosphoric acid is used to remove rust – that alone should tell you everything you need to know about it.

    I've tried, and I can't think of a single good reason why anyone should ever drink soda – even diet soda. They're not just empty calories, but empty calories that add up quicker than most people realize.

    If you're one of the millions of Americans who drink soda regularly, it's time to make some changes – and it's not as difficult as you might think. Even the most hardcore soda junkies are surprised at how quickly they lose the taste for it once they stop drinking it.

    For my money, nothing beats clear, cold water – but I find that when I just have to have that fizz, carbonated water beats cola any day of the week.

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