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.|
|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.”