Once upon a time, pineapple saved my life.
I was touring in Kenya and staying at a lodge near Lake Nakuru. I sat down to dinner and the first course was served—a cup of beef bullion. I held the spoon to my mouth, but couldn’t swallow. The thought of swallowing filled me with nausea.
I excused myself and went into the night, where I stood in a state of confusion. As I made my way toward the cabin, I stumbled down a series of steps. But the steps began to move. One side of the stair widened, while the other narrowed. As I passed rooms along the way, I pressed my hand into walls and doors for stability.
At the foot of the decline, my head started to spin. It was difficult to discern which cabin was mine. I made a guess and fumbled with the key. The lock turned.
I spent the next several days in bed, nursed by my mother, who had come on the trip with me. I maintained a fever of 104 (40˚C), and was unconscious much of the time. I only awoke to bouts of simultaneous vomiting and diarrhea.
A doctor visited the room and diagnosed amoebic dysentery. Half the tour group had the same illness! He gave me some pills to reduce the vomiting and said it was critical that I eat and drink, even though I wanted nothing.
Drinking the water was out of the question, since it glubbed from the tap in green clumps. Instead, I forced down orange soda (bottled water wasn’t available). There were only two foods I could keep down—ice cream and pineapple.
I credit the fat in the ice cream for preserving my weight, although I still lost ten pounds in three days.
I credit my mother’s care and the readily available pineapple—high in vitamins and filled with water—for pulling me through.
Since that time, I’ve been a pineapple fan. Yet, for much of my life, I rarely ate it. It looked so formidable that I didn’t think I could cut it. And the idea of hollowing the core sounded daunting.
However, I’ve recently been plagued with eye floaters due to a vitreous detachment in my right eye. A vitreous detachment is a normal aging event that occurs anytime after age 50, and happens when the vitreous gel that supports the eye pulls away from its attachment point.
A 2019 study*, which I first learned of through the Doctor Eye Health channel, suggests that consuming pineapples may cause floaters to dissolve. With this information, I had a new incentive to consume pineapple. I went to the store and bought two, hoping that something would be left of the fruit after my chopping and hacking.
I quickly found that pineapple is easy to cut. Although the skin looks quite hard, it offers resistance similar to that of an apple. A sharp blade helps, but isn’t essential.
First I remove the top of the pineapple, and then the base.
I then set the pineapple upright, and cut through the middle. I do this by placing the point of the blade in the center of the cylinder and pressing down. I then repeat the process on the opposite side.
This leaves me with two pineapple halves. I find the halves fit into plastic containers easily, more so if I cut away their curving sides. Cutting away the curving ends also makes the slices easier to eat.
I do not core the pineapple, since most of the nutrients are in the core! Admittedly, it is tougher than the remaining flesh, but is easily eaten if the fruit is sliced thin. I find five thin slices make a single serving.
I store my pineapple loaves in storage containers, and cut away one serving per day. I usually work on one loaf at a time, cutting slices from both ends to prevent color changes from oxidation. One pineapple lasts six or seven days.
After five months, my right eye is nearly free of floaters. Unfortunately, I am now experiencing a vitreous detachment in my left eye. Pesky floaters drift through the center of my vision, and I am again forced to eat my favorite fruit. Dr. Google’s orders!
[UPDATE Nov 2022, 18 months later: Eating pineapple did seem to lighten the floaters, making the outer edges more translucent, but the larger ones from the vitreous detachment are still present. For two months I switched to Bromelain tablets (Bromelain is the active ingredient in pineapple), but that seemed be less effective than raw pineapple. I haven’t given up on getting rid of my floaters naturally. My attitude is, what your body can put together it can also take apart.]
Photo of pineapple pile by Matthias Boeckel of Pixabay.
*Horng, Chi-Ting, Chen, Fu-An, Kuo, Daih-Huang, et al., Pharmacologic vitreolysis of the vitreous floaters by 3-month pineapple supplement in Taiwan: A pilot study. Journal of American Science 2019;15(4).