Friday, April 12, 2013

The secret to living well is all in the big toe joint

An article in Huffington Post this morning said gout--that disease of rich old fat guys that made their big toe joint swell painfully--is back. They blamed it on "consuming alcohol, red meat, shellfish, organ meats and high-fructose corn syrup."  They also advised that hypertension, kidney disease and diabetes are all associated with gout.

According to HuffPo, this luscious paella--with lots of pork, chicken, spices and tons of mussels--ought to be a gout-sufferer's nightmare, especially served with red wine. Not in my house!  (Wiki Commons)

On both counts, I would have to say bullshit.

I've never had gout, and I have had hypertension for decades. Really. My homeopath took it into consideration years ago, assessed my overall health and what he knew of my constitution, and told me not to worry about it. (Good thing. The only reason I knew I had it was that I had made the mistake of going to a doc-in-the-box once during a holiday when I had the flu and they took my blood pressure and instantly decided that they needed to prescribe pills, which I declined. They were aghast. You'll die, they warned me, really soon. I believe that was in 1995.)

My homeopath also told me salt was not the culprit; some people just have naturally higher blood pressure than the charts desire, and live to be 100. That's my plan anyway.

I might add that, for most of the time between the doc-in-the-box scare and today, I got lots of exercise riding and training horses and riders, and I read labels on food--anything I didn't make from scratch--as if my life depended on it. Which it does.

My dear gouty suitor

Two weeks after I first met my husband, he developed gout. He was in pain. He got over it. He had another attack a couple of weeks later. He got over it. And once again before we got married.

After we got married, I was in charge of his diet. In seven years, he has had exactly one attack of gout, and we both attribute that to a packaged fondue we had one night. Simple cure; never buy and eat that garbage again. We eat tons of cheese, though, so it wasn't the cheese that did it. It was probably the unpronounceable stuff at the end of the ingredient list that I decided wouldn't hurt us "just this once." Wrong.

The HuffPo article says that "Doctors can also prescribe drugs to lower your uric acid level." Sure they can. And you can pay for them. And the ethics-challenged CEOs of Big Pharma can get richer, you can get weaker as you suffer whatever those drugs cause and take more drugs to cure that, and the environment can become more polluted as you piss away all that money and your health as well into the sewers. (Water treatment plants do not and cannot trap every molecular substance that enters them; hence, you're ensuring that fish don't get gout. Expensively in every way.)

The article notes that gout rates have doubled in the past twenty years. Really? Imagine. People eating a diet filled with an ever-increasing variety of non-food consumed as if it were real, nutritious food, and gout doubled. What a surprise!

Come eat with us. You won't get gout. You may be a tad overweight because we eat cheese and red meat (lots of it, actually, Simon being the original meat-and-potatoes guy), shellfish (well, I do as Simon isn't served well by shrimp and doesn't like mussels, the later of which I consume with gusto every chance I get), butter, wine, gin....

Nor do we get as much exercise as we used to. The only horse I ever really loved to ride is retired, and it rains a lot in Cornwall anyway. We are both fair-weather exercisers.  And still, no gout.

It all comes down to real food

It's obvious to me what the secret is: food. Period. Real, honest food, as lightly laced with the junk of technological food processing as it is possible to get it. If we have one leftover industrial food in our diets, it is bread. I would like to start making bread again, as I did when I was young and broke, but the pitiful oven that came with this house won't do it. Changing it means redesigning the whole kitchen, so a new oven is on hold for a while.

But I hope not too long. So far, Britain's better breads don't seem to be too garbage-laden; one can actually pronounce the ingredients. Flour, water, oil, yeast. That sort of thing. Sometimes a "dough conditioner." Well, there it is. If a few grains of one's diet come from a test tube rather than a pasture or garden, I guess you can still stave off the gout. But when it comes to keeping my loved ones healthy, I'd prefer to do it with diet every time.

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