Urology is a field of medicine that deals with the urinary tract system. Since the urinary tract system is also responsible for filtering the blood, a lot of its diseases are a reflection of lifestyle habits. Changing some of these habits can help with preventing or managing urinary tract diseases.
Kidney stone formation is one example of the reflection of lifestyle on your health. Although it is not a genetic disorder, there are individuals who tend to have more stones than others, especially if their health habits promote kidney stone crystallization. Strong evidence shows that increasing water intake to a daily urine volume of 2.5 liters is a major stone formation inhibitor. Increasing fruit and vegetable intake will also increase citrate (a crystallization inhibitor) in the urine. Restricting sodium consumption by avoiding soda and fast food, as well as decreasing intake of animal protein, will also minimize the risk of kidney stone formation. Keep in mind that daily intake of dairy products as a major source of calcium is encouraged in contrast to using calcium supplements, although calcium citrate among the calcium supplements is considered “stone friendly.” Avoid excess amounts of oxalate–containing food, such as chocolate, strawberries, spinach, broccoli, nuts and red and black tea.
Another common presentation in the urology clinic is overactive bladder. Those with overactive bladder experience the compelled sensation to urinate, which is one of the most bothersome urinary tract symptoms that affects quality of life. Most overactive bladder symptoms are caused by significant fluid and caffeine intake, delaying bathroom use, weight gain, smoking and poor control of sugar in diabetic patients. The first step in managing overactive bladder is to educate patients about bladder habits and function and lifestyle modifications. Medications are second in the line of overactive bladder therapies, and they work better in combination with adjusting health habits. There are multiple, minimally invasive procedures to treat this very bothersome ailment as well, some of which can be done in our office.
Prostate cancer is yet another disease that demonstrates how lifestyle plays a major role in the development of disease. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men (excluding skin cancer), and the second most common cause of cancer death. Although there are many conflicting studies, there is a major consensus on certain habits when it comes to minimizing the chance of prostate cancer development and progression, such as eating more legumes, cooked and raw tomatoes, cruciferous vegetables, cereals, fruits, green tea and olive oil. You should also increase physical activity, as well as improve sleep hygiene. Consuming a regular intake of small fish, such as sardines and tuna is encouraged, but decrease consumption of saturated fat, processed and red meat and alcohol.
Lastly, smoking is a main culprit of cancer development; quitting helps reverse the risk for not only prostate cancer, but for the development of bladder cancer as well.
Taking care of the urinary tract system requires making lifestyle changes. Implementing these changes into your everyday routine can help in the prevention and management of urinary tract ailments and ultimately put you on track to a better quality of life.
Dr. Jaber Alanzi is with Lima Memorial Physicians and Midwest Surgical Specialists – Urology.