Health Advice From A Writer



           I was healthy when I was younger, which isn’t conceited of me to say because, with very few exceptions, most young people fall into that category without doing much. A healthy lifestyle for a young person is eating only one pizza and walking home from the bar instead of calling an Uber.

           Young people are similar to a new car. Pretty much any new car will run fine. The cheapest, cloth seated, crank handled windows, hubcapped Chevy will run like a top when it’s brand new but put a few miles on that car and things will start to squeak and if they’re women, maybe leak a little. Hey, I’ve seen daytime TV commercials. If the extent of what I knew about women came from daytime TV commercials, I’d have to put warning labels on anything funny because, you know, women leak when they laugh, cough, sneeze walk up stairs, raise their arms, do yoga, or stand on their tiptoes. They also gather around a table with other leaky women and openly discuss what makes them leak and what sort of barrier they use so that they can continue to ride horses and do jumping jacks. I’ve usually changed the channel halfway through one of these commercials because I’ve already learned way too much.

  7d16371f-9111-422c-9cc6-56d9b53b6062.jpg.w480         My own personal health didn’t start to get a little wonky until I was sixty. That seems to be the magic number for most people because it’s the beginning for hip and knee replacements, more prescription bottles than a spice rack has spices, and whatever other little hiccups life tosses at an old Chevy.

           Me? My autoimmune system went on the fritz, which was exciting because it gave me rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis isn’t a glamor disease. There aren’t many celebrities who compete on game shows for arthritis research, and I don’t think there’s an awareness ribbon that anyone would recognize. I’ve more or less made my peace with it because in spite of the inconveniences and sacrifices, I have it way better than a lot of people, and I’m only taking one prescription drug. Well, two if you count the blood pressure medication I’m taking only because the arthritis medication raised my blood pressure. That aside, I personally think doctors routinely hand out Nifedipine to their patients who turn sixty as if they were Tic Tacs because nobody wants to have a stroke. I did protest this suggestion at first since my blood pressure was only slightly elevated:

Me:                 I really don’t want to take this.

Doctor:           Would you prefer to have a stroke?

Me:                 Is this a trick question?

           So while I always took reasonable care of myself by eating right, exercising and trying to get enough sleep, I’m still starting to wear out, but with a little maintenance and some duct tape, I’ll be OK.

           About two or three weeks ago, I started to get a sore throat, so I figured it was a cold. It was a cold, but the sore throat remained long after the cold went away. I was also burping for no reason, which was sort of fun because as we all know, men rate their burps much the same as a seismologist rates an earthquake:

Me:     Did you hear that? That was a solid 5.4 on the Belchter scale.

Wife:   That was you? I thought the garbage truck backed up into the driveway and hit the garage.

Me      OK, so what you’re saying is that it was a 6.8? Sweet!

           This went on with the addition of a slight twinge in the center of my chest, right below my ribcage. Naturally, I thought I was exposed to radiation and was turning into a super powered lizard, but my wife explained that is was probably heartburn, so I did what every red-blooded American does who wants to avoid plunking down a mortgage payment to see a doctor. I Googled it, and Dr. Mrs. G. was right.

         “You need to take some vinegar,” she said.

           Please understand that I love my wife dearly, but this seemed crazy. Does acid fight acid? Superman does not get stronger if he’s exposed to Kryptonite, but I was intrigued. There was enough anecdotal evidence going back to Socrates that this does indeed work and besides, do we really know how anything works?

dsc_00093           Here’s the rub. It can’t be any old vinegar. It has to be apple cider vinegar with—wait for it—THE MOTHER.

           “What sort of fresh hell is this that an actual ingredient is called … THE MOTHER. Man, that car is fast! Is it turbocharged? No, it has … THE MOTHER. It’s the new Porsche 911 with … THE MOTHER!”

           To the Google machine for more answers!

           Let’s see … Aple cider vivgar with THE MOTHER …….

           I never correct my typos in Google.

           There is a company called Bragg that makes this product, and THE MOTHER is indeed an actual ingredient, although nobody knows what it is, but here’s what I learned. THE MOTHER is that special something in certain types of apple cider vinegar that still has the culture of the beneficial bacteria that turns regular apple cider into vinegar in the first place. Whoa.

           I still wasn’t satisfied, so I went to a food co-op in the city and asked one of the people who worked there about this MOTHER stuff. I figured he knew about this because he smelled funny, plus he had a bun and a beard that looked as if he groomed it with fire, and he worked in a co-op for free. “It’s better for you than regular vinegar,” bunhead firebeard said. That seemed convincing enough.

           I went back to the website and did some more reading, and looked at the image of Paul Bragg, the founder of the company and considered to be the father of the contemporary wellness movement. He looked healthy enough even though he’s been dead since 1976. Sort of like a person who eats the entire apple including the stem, core, seeds and even that little UPC sticker in three gigantic bites. Why do organic health food people always look as if they were crossbred with horses?about_paul

           Anyway, it turns out that my wife has been using this mystery potion in our salad dressing for years, but we were out of it. We bought another bottle at Wegman’s and when we got home, I took the suggested amount (two teaspoons), mixed it with water in a shot glass, and slammed it down as if it was a Jäger—which is also supposed to be good for you with the side benefit that it doesn’t make every orifice in your body recoil in horror. Jägermeister actually tastes good while doing a shot of vinegar is, well, let’s call it an acquired taste.

           I did this twice a day for three days and guess what? No more sore throat, no more burping, and no more radioactive chest pains. That’s kind of awesome, but I do miss the burping. I continue to take a shot a day.

           OK, so let’s sum things up. Older people get stuff. Medications help older people cope with stuff. Apple cider vinegar with … THE MOTHER helps heartburn. As always, consult with your doctor if you can get in to see him or her in less than two months or at the very least, talk with a guy with a bun and a firebeard who works for free at a food co-op.



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