Cabbage and Tofu: Lose Weight and Improve Fatty Liver

Cabbage and Tofu: Lose Weight and Improve Fatty Liver - One Japanese liver expert uses cabbage and tofu as the primary way to guide obese patients to lose weight.

Cabbage and Tofu: Lose Weight and Improve Fatty Liver

Cabbage and Tofu: Lose Weight and Improve Fatty Liver

Obesity has several complications, such as fatty liver and shortened life expectancy. One Japanese liver expert uses cabbage and tofu as the primary way to guide obese patients to lose weight.

Dr. Satoshi Ogata, a liver specialist of the Japanese Society of Gastroenterological Surgery, together with hepatologists and diabetes specialists, opened an expert clinic for eliminating obesity and improving fatty liver disease and diabetes at the Saku City Municipal Kokuho Asama General Hospital in 2017. So far, over 80 percent of patients treated here with the cabbage and tofu method have lost an average of 5 kilograms (11 pounds) over three months and improved their fatty liver diseases.

Fatty liver, or nonalcoholic fatty liver, is a disease in which fat accumulates in the liver cells even if the patient does not drink alcohol.

Mr. K, a 33-year-old judo rehabilitation practitioner in Japan who runs an orthopedic clinic, had irregular meal times due to his work, and to fill his stomach, he used to eat 2 cups of instant noodles with rice for dinner. During this time, his body weight got as high as 145 kilograms (319 pounds). The patient was admitted to Dr. Ogata's hospital for shingles and diabetes.

Dr. Ogata wrote in his column that the patient was 175.6 centimeters (5 feet 9 inches) tall, weighed 127.9 kilograms (281 pounds), had a body fat percentage of 34.9 percent, and suffered from moderate fatty liver.

Since the patient did not know how to cook and did not have time to do so, Dr. Ogata suggested he buy a bag of chopped cabbage and ready-made tofu for breakfast and that the cabbage and tofu be eaten raw with seasonings. Since the patient's intake of carbohydrates was limited to 20 to 40 grams per meal, only extra chopped lettuce was added to takeout orders for lunch and dinner, during which tofu was served instead of rice. The patient's meals began to change daily, and he could enjoy steak stewed with tomatoes, grilled salmon, and chicken stewed with root vegetables.

The patient lost 5.4 kilograms (almost 12 pounds) in one month, 17.4 kilograms (over 38 pounds) in six months, and 30 kilograms (66 pounds) in one year. Since then, Mr. K's weight loss has continued from triple digits to double digits, and his fatty liver disease has disappeared. Dr. Ogata said the key to this success was cabbage and tofu.

Dr. Ogata explained: "There is a close relationship between fatty liver and diabetes. Diabetes aggravates fatty liver, and fatty liver aggravates diabetes. Fatty liver weakens insulin and makes it easier to develop high blood sugar. About half of the people with fatty liver are on the verge of developing diabetes."

People With Mild Fatty Liver Have Increased Risk of Death

A study was published in the well-known journal Gut in 2021. Using data from a Swedish national registry, researchers compared 10,568 people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) to the general population (control group). The average follow-up was 14.2 years.

The total risk of death was 93 percent higher in the NAFLD patients than in the control group, and the risk of death increased with the severity of the disease. Specifically, the risk of death increased by 71 percent in those with mild fatty liver disease, 114 percent in those with nonfibrous fatty liver disease, 144 percent in those with fibrotic liver disease, and 279 percent in those with cirrhosis, compared to the control group.

According to the American Liver Foundation, approximately 100 million people in the United States have NAFLD. Most people with severe NAFLD are aged between 40 and 60, more women than men. NAFLD can lead to steatohepatitis, a severe form of NAFLD, and up to 25 percent of people with steatohepatitis may have cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is a potentially fatal disease, causing symptoms such as fluid buildup in the belly, pleural effusion, and jaundice, and can lead to liver cancer or liver failure. However, there is currently no drug treatment for NAFLD.

Cabbage and Tofu for Slimming

Dr. Ogata said that of the fat accumulation in the liver, 14 percent is directly affected by dietary fat, 60 percent is dissolved from subcutaneous fat and visceral fat in the body, and 26 percent is synthesized by carbohydrates in the liver fat. Therefore, it is essential to be aware of excess carbohydrates, especially refined carbohydrates such as rice, wheat, and sugar, which can increase liver fat.

However, cabbage and tofu can help with weight loss and fatty liver. Cabbage is rich in dietary fiber and vitamin U, not a real vitamin but a derivative of methionine, an amino acid. Vitamin U is good for the stomach and also promotes liver fat metabolism. Whether raw or heated, cabbage and tofu benefit the body. When eaten cooked, one can eat more of them to feel fuller since their volume will decrease with cooking.

Tofu is rich in plant-based protein and is one of the best foods for limiting carbohydrate intake. It's good for cold dishes or as a topping for miso soup or hot pot.

However, Dr. Ogata cautions against setting yourself a short-term goal of rapid weight loss. Each body is different; losing weight too fast will put too much pressure on the body and make it more likely to regain the weight. You can set a goal of losing 7 percent of your current body weight or a goal of losing 2 kilograms (about 4 pounds) per month.