Monday, July 17, 2006

From A to Zinc

Every morning for the past five days, I have been belching up fish. It is friggin' yuck times twelve. Tres disgusting man, and blueberries are to blame.

Yes, blueberries. Get ready, now! Here comes the logic!

For time immemorial my mother has been singing the praises of blueberries - particularly as a topping on breakfast cereal. "Honey, eatcha bloo-berries!" she would exclaim. Apparently, not only do they taste good, but they're good for you too! Who knew... Anyway, not wanting to poo poo my beloved mother's advice I decided to give it a shot (she's well versed on these things, and who am I to argue with a woman who looks twenty years younger than she is. Plus, she's a nurse and I figure it pays to follow the advice of a health professional. I'm, uh... also a bit of a mama's boy. Er... wait, no I'm not. I'm 31 years old, damnit - I am NOT a mama's boy. Huh? Oh... piss off.) My first attempt was to use them as a topping on a bowl of General Mills Boo Berry cereal. Imagine my surprise, won't you, when I discovered that I liked the fake blueberries better than the real ones, and I stopped voluntarily putting real blueberries on my cereal from that point forward. Why split hairs? No sense using the real ones when the fake will do. And besides, look at the box, for God's sake. They're whole grain.

This is not to say I got away from them entirely, however. There was a particularly drunk and hazy period in my mid-twenties when, unable to afford the ridiculous Boston rents (read: unable to save any money) I lived in my parent's basement. Not only did I get a full-on blueberry assault with my breakfast (the Boo Berry had been replaced with Quaker oatmeal by this point), but I also got a generous helping of ground flax seed sprinkled on top. The first time it was served to me, I choked. After all, I wasn't used to sand in my oatmeal. Throwing a nasty glance at my mother she merely said, "Please. I'm ya mutha. Ya think I'm gonna poison you? Jesus, Mary & Joseph."

She remained undaunted. Every morning I got my oatmeal with blueberries and flax seed, and every morning I scarfed it down. I got used to the stuff in short order, and seeing as I was receptive to a (relatively) healthy lifestyle, my mother suggested I started taking a multivitamin as well. I found it an easy habit to adopt, and I usually popped my pill every morning while taking notice that my parents not only took a multivitamin, but also about eighty gazillion other types of vitamins as well. I was appalled. It took them longer to take the vitamins than it did to eat breakfast (I'm exaggerating, but you get the point - in my mind they were walking pharmaceutical factories. I could just picture it - they're walking along the beach hand in hand and playing fetch with some golden retriever - which they don't own - and as they get nearer one says "Centrum Silver!" while the other says "Because balanced is better!" Alright... clearly I'm insane.)

Understand that my parents, in this as in most other matters, are pretty darned influential. They're both in ridiculously good health. They eat right, exercise daily, and take very good care of themselves, and as a result, they're able to live very full, enjoyable lives. They will also tell you, I'm fairly certain, that all those vitamins they pop every morning, play an integral role. So, about five years ago, taking a cue from them, I figured I'd at least do the vitamin thing. I mean, you can't argue with results (although it had not occurred to me, at that point anyway, that there were several other factors involved. I ate so poorly that breaded lard would probably have been healthier by comparison, and I smoked enough to make Yul Brynner cough. He's dead, you know. From smoking. Just so you're aware of that and all... Thankfully, I have quit both the cigarettes and the crap food.) In addition to the multivitamin, I started taking Vitamin C and Calcium, for no other reason than they seemed like decent vitamins to take.

That was about four years ago. Now, a little older and a little wiser, I have legitimate reasons for taking both vitamins, and I've added several more to my morning repertoire. In fact, lets run down the list just to avoid any confusion, shall we?
  • Mutlivitamin: As mentioned, the very first vitamin I started popping. The all-purpose Mac Daddy Pimp of them all. They cram a lot of shit into that tiny little pill. It makes you wonder if they're lying on the back of the label. Apparently I'm getting my daily dose of copper with this thing, which is good because I didn't know I was supposed to be taking copper, and would have no idea how to get it otherwise. I suppose I could start swallowing pennies or something, but why the hell would I want do that? Disgusting.
  • Vitamin C: Way back when, I started taking this for a few different reasons, all of them preventative and really no longer applicable. As I mentioned, I smoked a ton at the time and I had heard that smokers lose Vitamin C much faster than non-smokers. I'm still not sure if it's true, but I figured it couldn't hurt. Also, I was always catching colds back then too, and, well, you've heard the theories about Vitamin C boosting your immune system, I'm sure. There's still no evidence that it actually does but, whatever. Even though I never get sick anymore, I'll still take it because I figure it doesn't hurt not to. At the very least, I'm avoiding scurvy. Plus, it's tangy. You have to be careful though. Too much Vitamin C and you could end up with a case of the runs... or the dribbles... or the splats. Ewwwwwww.
  • Calcium: Because at the time, I was probably getting little to none. I almost never drank milk or ate green leafy vegetables. While I knew my bones were fine in the short term, I didn't want to start suffering from brittle bones in my later years. I'm amazed that I had the foresight, really. I still take it because, well, I'm a 31 year old male, and you know, osteoporosis could be right around the corner! Help.
  • Vitamin D: I only started taking this one within the last year after reading about a study done that showed it's believed to help significantly decrease the risk of prostate cancer among men (not like women will be getting prostate cancer or anything...) Although at relatively minimal risk for it now, this is one disease I want to seriously avoid in the future, if I can at all help it. Can you imagine what a pain in the ass prostate cancer must be? (I meant figuratively, actually, but if the shoe fits...) To say nothing of the fact that it's life threatening, there's the potential for all sorts of complications for those living with it. It's hard to treat. Lots of chemotherapy, sexual dysfunction, etc... And really, do you want to be the guy yapping about your prostate in general conversation and making everyone else uncomfortable? Didn't think so. Start taking Vitamin D, son.
  • Vitamin E: I'm not sure why I started taking this, actually. I have no idea what it actually does, although I do know that too much of it can be toxic to your liver... or something. Well, might as well find out now. WebMD says "This medication is used as a dietary supplement for prevention or treatment of Vitamin E deficiency. (Gee thanks, guys. That helps) OTHER USES: This medication may also be used to treat symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, reduce the risk of heart disease and prevent leg muscle cramps." Ah. Well... learn something new. Wait, what did it say?
Which brings us full circle to...
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Now THIS is what I started taking five days ago and the reason why I'm belching up all sorts of foulness. You see, Omega-3 Fatty Acids are essentially nothing more than fish oils and, as someone who generally loathes our seafaring friends, this was not exactly an easy sell. Yet, when told by a friend that it "improves everything" - a fact concurred by no less an authority than my mother - I reluctantly gave it a shot. I was not aware that wretched breath and a gag reflex would result. Too bad it doesn't come in a minty fresh flavor. I feel like The Incredible Mr. Limpet for God's sake. Still, I'm committed. I've been told that the fish breath is only temporary and according to WebMD, it really does fix everything - or at least comes damn close: "Omega-3 fatty acids, also known as "fish oils", have been used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, high lipid (fat) levels in the blood (hyperlipidemia), certain skin/scalp conditions (e.g., atopic dermatitis, psoriasis), ulcerative colitis, or certain blood circulation problems (e.g., Raynaud's syndrome). OTHER USES: This product has also been used for asthma, cancer, painful menstrual periods (I really have to watch out for those, you know. They can be excruciating), lung diseases, hay fever, certain mental/mood disorders (bipolar disorder), and to help prevent heart disease." Wow! Watch out, ladies! My breath may stink, but my psoriasis and tuberculosis are ALL under control.
So, as you may have guessed, I am now immortal. These secrets were revealed to me when I held aloft my magic sword and said, "By the power of Grayskull!"


Actually, I'm just kidding. I'm not really immortal, and I only like to pretend to be He-Man, but, you can bet your bottom dollar he took vitamins! I mean, he'd have to! He couldn't tackle Skeletor on just oatmeal and orange juice alone. So, between He-Man and my parents I feel I'm headed in the right direction. I'm taking positive, proactive steps to ensure my good health both now, and in the future. Immortality? I might revisit the idea somewhere down the line, but I think I'll leave it alone for now. Realy, it's just not all that feasible. I simply don't eat enough blueberries.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fish breath goes away, trust me. I think you just have to wait until your body remembers its long-lost best friend, Omega-3. Sometimes we reject the things we are afraid of.

10:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: your little problem, I really think that orange juice keeps you from burping the fish oil. As an aficionado of both, I've yet to experience that uncomfortable "oh my God, there's a salmon in my mouth" moment.

6:20 PM  
Blogger Marty Wrin said...

You can also get omega 3-6 oils that aren't fish-based. I don't think they're tasty but they definitely don't taste fishy!

I still don't like to take a spoonful like a medicine or something so I just incorporate it into my eating. Either on a salad or on food after it's been cooked.

3:39 PM  

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