Most people don’t spend a lot of time thinking about their hardworking kidneys, but according to urologist Des Moines Dr. Fawad Zafar, more than half of seniors over 75 are believed to have kidney disease, according to recent estimates by researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

As we age, our kidney function tends to weaken, and most people with chronic kidney disease aren’t even aware that they have it. Because March is National Kidney Month, your urologist Des Moines is urging everyone over 60 to be tested for kidney disease.

The two leading causes of chronic kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure, which are both often closely linked to diet. Other kidney issues, such as kidney stones, are also aggravated by poor dietary habits and lack of sufficient hydration.  With proper nutrition, it’s possible to keep our kidneys healthy.

A healthy diet is one of the best ways to help prevent kidney disease. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet was developed by the National Institutes of Health. It embraces an emphasis on complex carbohydrates, more fruits and vegetables and low fat dairy.  It also supports a decreased intake of animal meats, fats, oils and sweets.

According to your urologist Des Moines, studies have shown that the DASH diet helps decrease blood pressure, lowers the risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer, and reduces the risk of kidney stones.

Following are a few other tricky tips for optimizing your pantry, if kidney health is a priority:

  • Buy canned goods with “no salt added”
  • Buy fresh fruits and vegetables instead of canned
  • Look for the word “whole grains” on the package
  • Cook with olive and canola oil
  • Flavor your food with spices and herbs instead of salt

Diet isn’t the only key to kidney health. Your urologist Des Moines recommends a number of other health tips to keep your body in its best working order for as long as possible:

  • Don’t smoke
  • Get plenty of physical exercise
  • Stay on top of chronic health conditions that could be risk factors for kidney disease
  • Stay well hydrated; water and cranberry juice is best.

Last not least, be sure your senior loved ones get an annual screening once they’re over the age of 60, especially if they’re in a higher risk category. The testing, includes urine testing for blood, protein, and infection. Medicare typically covers diagnostic laboratory services, especially those that are ordered by your urologist Des Moines.