Many VA partnerships and initiatives focus year-round on providing Veterans information and resources to help them access nutritious food that suits their needs and lifestyles. One example is the VA partnership with American Kidney Fund (AKF), which was established in November 2020.
This collaboration adds to existing VA programs and services that support Veterans through early identification of kidney disease and referral for appropriate treatment. VA’s eKidney Clinic is one such resource. There, Veterans can learn about proper kidney nutrition. They’ll also learn how and why to pay attention to potassium, protein and sodium, and much more.
According to AKF, controlling high blood pressure and diabetes through a diet low in salt and fat may help prevent kidney disease from getting worse. A kidney-friendly diet limits certain foods to prevent the minerals in those foods from building up in your body.
Kidney Kitchen website – nutritious recipes
AKF has on its website a user-friendly breakdown of information about a kidney-friendly diet as well as many other educational resources. Another AKF resource is its KidneyKitchen, featuring nutritious recipes, shopping guides and tips for cooking or dining out while staying kidney friendly.
Kidney-friendly diets and nutrition must take cultural backgrounds into consideration as well. AKF explains that African Americans are more at risk for kidney failure than any other population and diabetes is the number-one cause of kidney failure.
About one in nine African American adults has diabetes compared to about one in thirteen white adults. Hispanic and Native American people are also at higher risk for diabetes.
AKF and VA provide resources and support for anyone with a kidney disease diagnosis. Viewers can find a free “Know Your Kidneys” doctor discussion guide on AKF’s website.
VA makes available information about living with kidney disease and paying for kidney disease treatment on its website as well.
Help Veterans understand if they are at risk
VA’s National Center for Healthcare Advancement and Partnerships (HAP) manages the VA-AKF partnership.
Georgeanna Bady, a health systems specialist for HAP, said the education and tools this partnership makes available to Veterans will help bring many people – no matter their background – the resources they need to manage kidney disease.
“This partnership aims to help people understand if they are at an increased risk for kidney disease,” she said. “And how they might prevent or manage the disease to the best of their ability given their unique lifestyle circumstances. Food and cooking are deeply personal and culturally-specific. We must consider the diversity of the Veterans who are diagnosed with kidney disease and be inclusive of their needs. Together with AKF, VA knows we’ll be able to do that.”
For more information on HAP’s partnership work, please visit: va.gov/healthpartnerships.
For more information on AKF, please visit: kidneyfund.org.
Mikala Jamison is a senior writer for DCG Communications.