I lost twelve pounds in six weeks. I didn’t mean to, but it happened when I radically changed my diet. You probably don’t want the illness that initiated this change, but you may find interesting the weight loss results I have achieved.
My liver swelled up with a rare kind of hepatitis in early November, about 2 months after I returned from the Amazon, and I could no longer digest just about everything normal in the American diet. No alcohol, no wheat, no corn, no sugar, no fruit, no raw food, no cold food, no fried food.
It takes a lot of will power and a very upset stomach to say “no” to so many foods. So it may be tempting to refer to this as the “No diet” diet. Or, worse, the hepatitis diet.But perhaps reverting to a simple diet is a better description.
What I have been able to eat and enjoy resembles a diet eaten by Japanese farmers: rice, cooked vegetables, miso, broths, small amounts of fish and dark meat and tea. The healing power of this simple Japanese-style way of eating is reknown.
Japanese people suffer less heart disease and obesity than Americans, and even those that move to Hawaii — halfway between Japan and the Mainland US — live longer if they maintain a Japanese lifestyle, according to the landmark Honolulu Heart Program, a long-term study of Japanese men in Hawaii. Acculturation was a primary study parameter, and researchers found that Japanese men who adopted the Western diet and sedentary lifestyle most fully were more likely to develop coronary heart disease, as well as 11 other risk factors (Am J Epidemiol, 1982). Conversely, eating a more Japanese diet and maintaining physical activity lowered men’s risk for heart disease, overweight and other risk factors.
In my time of illness, a simple Japanese diet was all my liver could tolerate. Following it helped to restore my health and, in the process, I have lost weight. After years of indulging in rich western foods, I definitely carried some extra pounds and was in no danger of becoming too skinny. The hardest part of the diet was battling intense cravings for all the foods I was withdrawing from within the first two weeks, foods such as greasy meat, spices, bread, and sugar.
This simple diet has also eliminated nearly all of symptoms from seasonal allergies to pollen, dust and molds. For years I have taken over-the counter and prescription medications for runny, drippy nose that comes with seasonal allergies. It’s the classic western answer to any health problem: take a pill.
But recovering from hepatitis or any other liver problem is all about not taking and eliminating the unhealthful. With an injured liver, you can’t take anything. So removing all I could not tolerate was my only choice. This includes wheat and corn, and doing so has worked wonders for my immune system.
Two weeks ago I took a small taste of a corn tortilla and within about 30 minutes, my nose started to run. Same when I tried to reintroduce wheat. Wheat also slows my digestion, causing almost instant feelings of nausea. So both corn and wheat are out for good, but removing them also means removing everything that eats them, including all factory farmed chicken, pork and beef.
I already don’t like ranch dressing, Coke or catchup. Now I’m eliminating wheat, corn and factory-farmed animal flesh from my diet all because I don’t want to take pills and I want to feel healthy. I also exercise every day and enjoy taking my dogs on long walks. Depending on your politics, I am suspiciously unAmerican or all about freedom. Either way, I am 12 pounds lighter and allergy free.