Dad’s Astonishing Health Miracle

My father is 80 years old and has Stage 5 renal disease.

In December of 2011, I flew home to the Philippines to care for him after he had a heart attack. Simultaneously, my 75-year-old mother was in another operating room having her gallbladder removed. Ay naku!

After a grueling 16-hour flight, I saw Dad and Mom both looking very frail. After a few days of recovery, they slowly improved and were discharged to our provincial homestead.

The doctors warned that my father was close to complete kidney failure, with less than 15% of normal function. In addition, he required a heart bypass. At home we watched his diet carefully and he slowly got stronger. His creatinine level, an accurate indicator of kidney function, began dangerously high but incrementally started decreasing. I felt that Dad was out of immediate danger, so I left to go return to my responsibilities in the U.S.

A few weeks later, I learned that Dad’s creatinine went up again. This was disheartening but not a surprise. My father and mother — in fact, my whole family – love eating, though impartial observers might accurately call it “overeating.” Food is the way we show our love for one another, offering sustenance and pleasure to each other, always encouraging extra helpings, so much that sometimes it’s physically difficult to get up from the dining table.

My father had to come to the U.S. for continued care. My husband and I, with the consent of Mom and Dad, decided we should live together as a family. In order to maintain each other’s privacy and independence, we converted our former garage into a cozy apartment, which we now call “The Casita.” Instead of lawns, we have bountiful and beautiful vegetable gardens, front and back. The air is fresh and cool, and we always have plenty of delicious (and amazingly fresh) organic vegetables to eat.

This got me thinking. After reading many books on Kidney Disease, and in consultation with a dietitian, we adopted a strict vegan diet for my Dad. The results have been staggering.

Dad is happy to share these numbers. He hopes others might find similar wellness through a radically low-toxin diet.

5/18/2012 Before Vegan Diet 8/16/2012 After 3 Months on Vegan Diet
Symptoms of Kidney Disease
Itching Moderate to Severe None to Minimal
Fatigue Moderate to Severe; Sleeping almost every hour or two Min to Moderate; Takes a nap in the afternoon
Edema in the feet Moderate None
Edema in the hands Min to Moderate None
Balance Loses balance from sit to stand; crisscrosses feet when starting to ambulate Good balance; Ambulates from 30-60 min. 4-6 times a week; gardens; squats without losing balance
Exercise Unable Walks 30-60 min. 4-6 times a week
Weight 175 lbs. 150 lbs.
Blood Pressure 151/69 113/69

 

 

Lab Results

5/18/2012 Before Vegan August 16, 2012 After 3 Months on Vegan Diet
Glucose 96 82 (normal 83-110 mg/dl)
Cholesterol 241 145 (normal <=200 mg/dl))
Triglycerides 122 97 (normal 0-150 mg/dl)
Potassium 5.2 4.7 (normal 3.5 – 5.2 mmol/L)
Phosphorous 6.5 6.9 (normal 2.3-4.7 mg/dl)
Protein 7.1 6.3 (normal 6.1-8.1 mg/dl)
Creatinine 5.63 7.82 (normal 0.7-1.3 mg/dl)
Urea Nitrogen 72 120 (normal 8-26 mg/dl)

As you can see from the tables above, aside from his kidney-failure-related escalations, Dad’s vital measurements have improved in every area. This has accompanied an obvious improvement in my father’s quality of life. Now he walks daily, he gardens every morning, and his balance and agility seem like those of a younger man. His cardiologist reduced his heart medications and found Dad no longer needs a heart bypass. He hasn’t reversed his kidney disease, but his health has improved dramatically. For three months we’ve been able to prolong the need for dialysis by switching to a vegan diet and regular exercise. Although Dad will eventually have dialysis treatment, his nephrologist claims that the frequency will be less because every other system of his body is in good shape.

A vegan diet isn’t for everyone. But after seeing my dad’s remarkable turnaround, I’m convinced it can be a genuine “lifesaver.”

Green is Gorgeous 3: Healthy & Delicious in Historic Filipinotown

In the heart of Historic Filipinotown I’ve discovered a little slice of heaven. For pesco-vegans like me – people who eat fish but no other meat – the Filipino-owned and operated Tribal Café is paradise.



On the corner of Temple Street and Belmont, this funky hole in the wall café has a casual and inviting ambiance. The main wall inside presents intriguing art, much of it created by Filipinos, which changes every week.

The dining room contains small tables and chairs, many of them filled with folks practicing the literary arts. Framing both sides of the room, the cafe has three industrial sized refrigerators. These units house “the secret” of Tribal Café’s success.


The refrigerators contain an array of fresh vegetables and fruits, boxes and bags and cartons of them. The owner, Joshua Jose, who has been on-site every time I’ve visited, strongly advocates for green juice and smoothies to manifest optimum health. These are his “ammunition.”

 

For those who are new to the powerful notion of green juice or green smoothies, here’s the 411:  Green juicing involves using lots of fresh green vegetables, such as kale, spinach, or chard, in combination with your favorite fruits in a blender or juicer. Green leaves contain all the essential minerals, vitamins and amino acids that humans need for optimal health. When they’re cooked, you lose most, if not all, of their nutrients.  Examination of prehistoric humans has revealed that they ate a copious amount of green leaves — along with fruits, blossoms, seeds and insects. When the industrial revolution began, people transitioned dramatically from consuming whole foods to convenient processed foods. These processed food are high in calories and low in nutrition and one of the main causes of serious illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Numerous scientifically documented studies of ill people have shown that by eating more whole foods — particularly drinking green juice or smoothies – unwell individuals are able to cure themselves of their illnesses (including cancer!) by loading up on green leaves and fruits.


Traditional Filipino cuisine, unfortunately, is rich in processed food. Filipinos eat a lot of meat (fried, stewed), white rice, white bread and noodles.

The vegetables are often cooked by boiling or frying, which destroys many of their nutrients. It’s unsurprising that the number one killer of Filipinos in and out of the Philippines is heart disease.

How refreshing to see a Filipino-owned café that serves vegan cuisine and green drinks!  Though they also offer non-vegetarian food, Tribal Café’s focus is to provide low-cost, healthier food choices concentrating on health-supportive, plant-based whole foods – the foods that contain micronutrients our bodies need for nourishment and healing. According to Mr. Jose, the amazing “Green Detox” is one of their most popular green juices. It’s made from wheatgrass, assorted leafy greens, fruits, cayenne pepper, turmeric, and flaxseed.

This kind of spicy-herby-fruity drink is good for detox, weight loss, diabetes control and prevention of chronic diseases. Mr. Jose says, “I hope to develop Tribal Cafe as a ‘healing café,’” where we are able to impart as much information as possible on the subject of nutrition, healthier food choices and lifestyle changes.”

Mr. Jose, who opened Tribal Café in 2005, reports “Filipino-Americans have the highest incidence of chronic diseases among Asian-Americans in the US.  This sad state is largely the consequence of the traditional food we consume at home and in the restaurants.  To improve our community’s poor health, we need some drastic changes in the way perceive our food, the way we acquire ingredients, and the way they we consume.

We Filipinos should learn the spiritual value of food as nourishment to the various organs of our body and not merely as a source of pleasure or instant gratification.”


Vegan Find!

Thumbs up: Luna & Larry’s Organic Coconut Bliss in Dark Chocolate

Non-dairy frozen dessert made of organic coconut milk and organic agave syrup, organic fair trade vanilla extract and organic fair trade cocoa

Taste test: Creamy, not too sweet and tastes just like chocolate

Price: $5.99 at Whole Foods for 1 pint