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.”

Update on Health Care Reform

Congress has officially completed work on health care reform legislation. President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) into law on March 23. The House and the Senate recently passed a second health care bill (H.R. 4872) to make adjustments to PPACA and President Obama is expected to sign this second bill into law next week. The total estimated cost to implement this health care reform is $940 billion over 10 years with an estimated reduction in budget deficit of $138 billion over the same 10 years. The key provisions of H.R. 4872 relevant to our community include the following:

  • Expands coverage to 32 million additional Americans, prohibiting the denial of coverage based on pre-existing conditions and prohibiting increases in premium rates due to pre-existing conditions or gender;
  • Individual mandate will require all U.S. citizens and legal residents to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty of up to $695 per adult;
  • Individual affordability is achieved through affordability tax credits, based on a sliding scale for individuals and families to obtain health insurance through exchanges up to 400% of the federal poverty level;
  • Employers are not required to offer insurance coverage to their employees, but employers with more than 50 full-time employees that do not offer health coverage must pay a fee of $2,000 to the federal government for each uncovered employee, with the first 30 employees being exempt from this fee;
  • Small businesses and qualifying nonprofits with 25 or fewer employees with average wages under $50,000 will be eligible for tax credits so they can extend health insurance to their employees and this credit will be made available this year;
  • Health insurance exchanges will be established by each state to facilitate enrollment for individuals and small businesses


For more updates on health care reform:


Health care reform, finally

 For the first time in our nation’s history, Congress has passed comprehensive healthcare reform. Every American will be covered under the toughest patient protections in history. Arbitrary premium hikes, insurance cancellations, and discrimination against pre-existing conditions will now be gone forever. Most of all, we will have peace of mind.

Health Care Reform Needs You Now

Please call your senators right now and ask them to support President Obama’s three principles for real health care reform. If you live in California. Please call:

Senior Senator Dianne Feinstein at 202-224-3841

Junior Senator Barbara Boxer at 202-224-3553

(Not your representatives? Go here to look them up:

These calls are an easy but powerful way to make a difference. Just tell whoever answers the phone that you’re a constituent (mention what city you’re calling from), and that you’re counting on your senator to support real health care reform, which must:

1.Reduce costs 2.Guarantee a choice of plans and doctors — including the choice of a robust public insurance option 3.Ensure quality, affordable care for every American

Remember, this is not a fight between Democrats & Republicans. This is for all of us.

Thank you for your time and consideration,


Health Care Reform

I think we all can agree that our country needs to repair its healthcare system, and the time is NOW. What we have just does not work.

I believe some of you know that I am a licensed physical therapist, and I continue to supervise a physical therapy clinic once or twice a week when I am in town. As a physical therapist, I find myself being dictated to by insurance companies. They decide how many times I may treat a client. The insurance companies do this because in the past many health care professionals overutilized the health care system and ordered extravagant treatments, tests, and,yes, physical therapists visits that were often unncecessary. Because of the defensive strategy of insurance companies, many clients are currently not getting the treatments that they need. I’ve seen cases of elderly clients being sent home although they do not have the means or skills to live independently. Some of them end up breaking their hips from a fall — and must be readmitted to the hospital. I see workers being sent back to work still unhealed, not ready for the job duties they have to perform. They end up reinjuring themselves. Clients on MediCal get fewer visits than clients who have better insurance coverage. I have to spend a lot of time on paperwork trying to get authorization for treatments and equipment for my clients. And many times these treatments are unpaid.

I don’t consider myself an angel. Maybe I can spend more time on patients because I don’t have children — other than my recordings!… I don’t have the exact answer. But how about other healthcare professionals? Do you think all of them are fighting hard to get their clients the treatments they need? By the way, paperwork often means writing justification that a certain intervention is needed, then following up with phone call after phone calls. While all of this is happening, the client waits.

I recently attended a meeting in which health care reform was discussed. Nothing I heard there surprised me. Because of our broken system, people are dying from preventable causes; people are going bankrupt from hospital bills; hospitals are laying off people and closing because clients cannot pay for their health care. Meanwhile, a health insurance agent announced that Blue Shield will be increasing its premium by 20% in two months.

President Barack Obama wants a bill at his desk on health care reform by August of this year. We need our politicians to hear our need for a reform! And most important, what kind of a reform we need. I am in favor of single-payer universal health care: Everyone will have health care. This will also take out profit from the equation so that health care professionals can just focus on what they were trained for, that is, to TREAT the ill. And, of course, prevention.

People all over the nation started meeting to talk about the change that we need. Join us! On June 27th , all over the United States, a health fair is being launched. Part of this health fair’s goal is to serve the needy, and the other part is to show in numbers that health care reform is something that we can NOT put off any longer.

We need you! This is the time to speak out. To join, email Stacy Cohen:

For more information: