The Kihon Happo of Nutrition
By James Clum, Shidoshi
On May 3rd of this year I had the misfortune of being diagnosed with colon cancer. After a day or so of adjusting to the news, I immediately began to educate myself on my condition and learn what would be the best course of action. The conservative medical approach went by the book choosing a protocol that statistically had proven to provide patients with my diagnosis an 80% chance of survival over 5 years. The process of coming to this course of action however took about a month and a half before any form of treatment was undertaken.
So what does a person do for a month and a half after being diagnosed with cancer? Do you just sit and wait as your life hangs in the balance? I didn’t. I couldn’t. I had to do something to try and help myself. I started by juicing. I didn’t know why or how, but something told me to juice. This interest in juicing led to learning about alternative cancer treatments such as the Gerson protocol for fighting cancer. I eventually adopted a modified form of this diet which is more appropriate for someone doing chemo and surgery. I am not advocating any particular alternative to standard medical treatments of any disease including cancer. I am advocating eating for longevity and the prevention of disease. Everything we need is found in nature. We just have to make the right choices.
Currently, am feeling stronger each day. I finished radiation and chemotherapy one week ago. After 6 weeks of this treatment nurses and doctors were surprised that my blood tests each week continued to remain normal, my weight did not fluctuate, and I continued to feel pretty much normal in every way. Although I felt occasional fatigue, I was not uncomfortable most of the time and very rarely even experienced such mild symptoms of such as nausea. I was given three different medications which I never needed to take.
Although juicing is a mainstay of the Gerson protocol for cancer, while doing chemotherapy and radiation, juicing multiple times a day can cause bad diarrhea. As treatments progressed I was forced to back off from juicing and bring other nutritious foods into my diet that would be more agreeable to me. What I came up with was very similar to what Soke Hatsumi mentions in “The Way of the Ninja: Secret Techniques.” Soke explains this “Ninja Diet” on page 109.
“Above all, I recommend eating plenty of vegetables, the Ninja Kihon Happo diet consists of brown rice, tofu, sesame, miso soup, no salt, no sugar, uncooked food and colored vegetables.”
Soke’s “Ninja Diet” seemed to provide a healthy plan which could include plenty of juicing and still provide whole grains and proteins. A typical day may include fresh fruit or vegetable juice 2-3 times a day, oatmeal for breakfast with fresh fruit, a salad for lunch, edamame (immature soy beans) or tofu with brown rice, miso soup and cabbage for dinner. I like all of these foods, but don’t get wrong, I love the hamburgers, the chili-fries, and probably most of the same poisons that any typical American enjoys. I could stop eating because I could see a clear choice between life and death. If you are thinking that you could never give up certain foods to eaten a mainly vegan diet, you are wrong. If somebody had a gun to your head you would. You just need proper motivation. If life doesn’t mean that much to you, you might continue to do as you please thinking that nothing bad will ever happen to you. Statistically speaking, heart disease, cancer and diabetes will catch most of us at one time or another.
In Soke Hatsumi’s section on the Ninja Diet in his book, he explains that one should eat the foods previously described as the staple foods of one’s diet. However, he also explains that one must also be flexible in one’s choices of foods. He advises eating a variety of foods outside of one’s comfort zone. Such foods may be unusual or foreign to one’s taste buds. They may even be foods that are “disguised” which one must truly savor to detect. In this way, the ninja must accept change in life easily with no surprises even when these unforeseen changes occur on one’s plate. Being careful to not be “picky” one can enjoy a variety of foods in this way while still maintaining an overall healthy diet.
The development of the Kihon Happo in one’s Taijutsu requires repeated practice of Hon Waza which is the foundational movements of certain standard basic techniques. In a sense, this is like the basic Kihon Happo diet of eating whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables daily. In Taijutsu, there are also Henka or variations of the basic techniques. Good Taijutsu requires a strong foundation of the Hon Waza as a basis for all other movements. At the same time, one must also explore variations of the basics to have the mental and physical flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances as they occur. The same is true for our diet. We need to be consistent in in worthwhile practices, but not inflexible. It is necessary to develop eating habits that can sustain long term good health by eating foods that are “vital” While at the same time avoiding being “finicky” lest we be caught off guard when we cannot eat our customary foods.
Here are some of the health benefits that have been attributed to the foods Soke Hatsumi has listed as the “Kihon Happo of Diet:”
As a whole grain brown rice contains many minerals such as manganese, selenium, and phosphorus that are removed once rice has been polished and turned into white rice. Whole grains such as brown rice contain phytonutrients rich in antioxidants that protect one from a whole host of diseases. In addition, brown rice has more fiber which promotes good digestive health by increasing transit time of food through the intestines. Increasing fiber in one’s diet can potentially prevent high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diseases of the colon including cancer.
Tofu is a white soy based product that offers a low fat alternative to eating meat. Rich in protein, it can be added to one’s diet in a variety of ways. Tofu can come in a variety of densities and consistencies which allows it to be very versatile as a textural substitute for meat products. It has the abilities to take on the flavors of the foods that it is cooked with. Steamed young soy beans (edamame) make an excellent snack and can even be added to one’s diet as an additional source of protein especially for vegetarians and vegans.
Products made from sesame seeds are rich in many minerals such as copper, selenium, manganese, magnesium, calcium and iron to name only a few. The seeds can be ground and then sprinkled on all kinds of things such as soups, salads, sandwiches, yogurt, dips etc… Sesame is rich in phytosterols, a substance which is similar to cholesterol in its construction, but has the benefits of lowering cholesterol levels thereby lowering one’s risk of heart disease. As an alternative seed, flaxseeds can be used in exactly the same way. They are excellent sources of omega3 fatty acids which are antioxidants. Antioxidants help to protect cells from being damaged by toxins within the body resulting in greater physical health and less chance of getting diseases like cancer, heart disease, and also communicable disease like the cold and flu.
Miso is also a Japanese staple along with brown rice and soybeans. It is a fermented soybean paste that is used to make a soup frequently drunk with Japanese meals. It is usually made with small cubes of tofu and sea weed. Miso soups may help to boost normal flora within the intestines which helps to maintain normal digestion and intestinal health. Rich in antioxidants it may also help to keep one from getting sick from bugs that go around seasonally as well as maintain overall healthy tissues.
By lowering salt in one’s diet, one reduces the risk that one will develop hypertension. Hypertension can lead to heart attack and stroke.
Many foods in the standard American diet have salt and sugar added to them unnecessarily to create more flavor and insure that one desires to eat more. As a result, many people are desensitized to the taste of salt and sugar in their food. American food tastes abnormally sweet or salty to most of the world by comparison. By limiting sugar in one’s diet, one may avoid getting Type 2 Diabetes, a problem that is all too common in America. In addition, by limiting the amount of sugar one consumes, it is possible to avoid becoming overweight or even obese.
Cooking destroys many nutrient and enzymes in food. Ideally, we want to eat fresh, lively foods at each meal. The vitality present even visually within foods can be added to our own bodies.
Colored Vegetables and Fruits
By consuming primarily a plant based diet, one can effectively eat more food without gaining weigh. These foods which are distinguished by their bright colors are rich in vital nutrients that support life. They are flavorful and do not require other flavorings or cooking to be eaten. Fruits and vegetables provide necessary fiber, are low in calories and fat and provide all of the vitamins and nutrients that we need. In this day and age, it is important that we by farm fresh organic foods that are not genetically modified. In this way we process our food as nature intended.
Since these foods and this way of eating may be a bit unfamiliar to you, I’ll give you some examples of what a day of meals would like using such a diet.
Breakfast: Blended 0% Greek yogurt with flaxseed oil, crush flaxseeds, berries, raw honey and granola
Snack: Fresh carrot juice
Lunch: Almonds, spinach salad with tomatoes, fresh fruit salad made from what is in season, slice of rye bread with horseradish, fresh carrot and apple juice
Snack: almonds and some orange juice
Dinner: brown rice, fried tofu, and soy beans drizzled with sesame oil and tempura sauce, miso soup, fresh carrot and parsley juice
On this diet I am never hungry and feel younger and healthier than I have in years despite having cancer!
Submitted by Shihan James Clum, IBDA Educational Director and Master Council member