© Chris Ross
I'm 62 years old and have had Hepatitis C for over 50 years. I was badly burned at the age of ten, which is when I contracted hepatitis. I had acute liver problems in the 70s and 80s and again in the 90s, turning yellow each time. They say, three strikes and you're out, but I'm still here. I've been told many times that I was going to die, or that I had only a certain number of months or years to live . . . but I'm not only still here, I'm pretty darn healthy. I know that diet and lifestyle play a big role in my health and well being.
I'm not a doctor and I'm not a scientist. I came up with this diet and lifestyle approach through trial and error, a good dose of common sense, and luck. I don't know if it will work for anyone else. I can only say it works for me, and others have asked me to share it. It's not just a diet, it's also a lifestyle change.
The first thing I did was to remove stress from my life. I completely stopped working and removed all stress, strain, and heavy responsibility. I moved to the beach for a more relaxing, healthy lifestyle. If you're thinking that you can't afford to stop working, I couldn't either, but then I realized I couldn't afford NOT to . . . if I wanted to live. The main thing is not to stress out your body. Scale down your life. Minimize stress.
I call this diet the Fresh, Live Diet because my motto is: If it wasn't alive recently, I don't eat it. I now eat only fresh, pure foods. I stopped drinking coffee and stopped drinking soda. I drink only bottled water, green teas and fresh juices like cranberry juice and apple juice (I recommend Martinelli's).
I eat only fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, and fresh meats, poultry, and fish, plus dairy products, including whole milk and yogurt. I don't go for the low fat stuff. I eat no junk food, no prepared food, no cookies, candy, cakes, and nothing with any additives or preservatives. Fresh food only, not canned. I eat no fried food and no greasy foods.
I eat a mostly plant-based diet, which I supplement with chicken, turkey, lamb, beef, fish, dairy. My meat consumption is minimal. For example, instead of eating three or four lamb chops like I used to, now I'll eat a plate of vegetables - string beans, broccoli, spinach, and one small lamb chop for protein. I rotate the protein: chicken (no skin) one night, then a vegetarian night, then lamb, then vegetables, then a burger, etc. Many nights, there is no meat on my plate. I go easy on starches, but I will sometimes add a small baked potato or sweet potato. I rotate between them.
I eat my vegetables plain and simple. The meats or poultry, I eat baked or broiled or grilled over charcoal or prepared in a cast iron skillet without added fat. Simple, pure, with no condiments, no sauces, and no gravies, with a little salt and pepper and maybe a few herbs or spices. It's a simple diet. Bland some would say. It's not fancy and not gourmet, but it's healthy and it's keeping me alive.
Easy on the Liver
The liver is the body's filter. Whatever goes through your body, goes through your liver. The more pure what you put in your body is, the better off your liver is going to be, because the less hard it has to work. And you're getting more nutrition because you're not blocking it up with fats and chemicals and other junk.
"Eat and Thrive"
The real secret to staying well with hepatitis is to eat. Sometimes I call this the Eat, Eat, Eat Diet. But it depends what you eat. Have something good, something fresh. Choose an apple, yogurt and banana, healthy cereal, cottage cheese with some fruit. I eat about every four hours. I'll have breakfast, a snack, lunch, another snack, dinner, and a snack before bed. Eat and thrive, I say. One great thing is that I can eat all I want now and stay the same weight, as long as I'm eating in accordance with this diet.
Mental attitude is a big part of this diet. It takes a lot of willpower to ignore the junk food advertising and stay committed to healthful eating. If you want something sweet, you have to ignore the ice cream ads and have an apple or banana. I have them every day, sometimes more than once.
Fresh, Live Food
The key to this approach is fresh, live food. Fresh fruits, fresh vegetables. Not a lot of meat. Very little starch. Fresh live food. That's where the nourishment is. Fresh foods have more nutrition than all that over-processed stuff on the market. This diet takes effort. Processed foods may be easier, but my approach is to eat as if I lived on a farm: eat what's fresh and recently alive.
I'm 62 years old and I'm basically healthy. I was recommended for a liver transplant at one point, but I declined. All the traditional Hep C treatments have been recommended to me, and I passed on those as well. Yet with lifestyle and dietary changes, I'm doing so well that the UCLA Medical Center Hepatology Department told me, "You don't belong here. We're here to take care of sick people. You're too healthy." I even have normal liver sonograms twice a year, and my liver enzymes that used to be in the mid 300s are now in the 90s. I take a multivitamin (Centrum Silver) daily, but that's it. The liver cannot process it if you overdo on the vitamins. I occasionally treat myself. Pizza and ice cream are not totally gone from my life, but they are reserved for special occasions; and my system can handle it because I'm good most of the time. If I need a treat at night, I have some cereal and milk, sometimes peanut butter and jelly, but the idea is to stick to the diet 95% of the time. The best treat of all is to stick to the diet the best you can and give yourself the treat of feeling well.