We don't talk very much about our health or health care. That's because this blog is about our travels, it's not about politics or religion or current events. And health care (especially in the U.S.) is a very political topic. We definitely have our opinions about all of these things, but we've learned that people in general are very polarized when it comes to these topics and some people aren't able to grasp that if we disagree on something we can still be friends!
But our health and health care is related to our travels in some ways.
We are very healthy. Some people might say we are "lucky" to be able to say this, but we think it's more to do with planning. We eat very healthy, and we get a lot of exercise. We believe that it's the combination of these two things that allow us to be healthy. We take zero drugs or medication or pills. Nothing.
Ruth went through twenty years of relatively minor digestion problems coupled with a few other oddball things that progressively deteriorated to the point where she became underweight despite eating as much as I do. Our great Canadian medical system couldn't find anything wrong with her. Eventually, a doctor suggested that maybe she has a gluten intolerance. The system won't pay for the test to find out, so the only other way to find out if you don't want to pay for the test yourself is to go "gluten free" with your diet.
After a month on a gluten free diet? Twenty years worth of problems gone. Just like that. After two months, she had gained back all of the weight she had lost and everything was back to normal.
But over the past year, I've noticed some problems. Nothing serious, but things that aren't just right. And, some of you have noticed via pictures that I've lost weight as well. I've always been a tall skinny guy, and genetically, there is no fat in my family history. But I really do think that I should be 10 or 15 lbs heavier than I am now.
And, I've had three sessions over the past three weeks where I've felt lightheaded and had to go lie down. This led me to do some research, and I believe this is low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) which can be directly related to gluten intolerance.
Most of you are saying...."You better go see a doctor!"
But I'm not the type to go running to the doctor for every little thing. I don't believe they are very good at diagnoses, and there's enough information available online. I believe I'm smart enough to sort through it all and understand what I'm sorting through.
We believe that a majority of people have a gluten intolerance of some kind. Most people are able to live with it and the symptoms don't bother them enough to do anything about it. Then, there is a large group of people who have symptoms bad enough that their doctors have them on all kinds of medications to mask the symptoms. Then, there are the group who have figured out that it's gluten that was causing their problems and go on to live a healthy problem free life provided they avoid gluten.
And so from the research I've done, I too have decided to go "gluten free" in my diet. Fairly easy to do, since Ruth already cooks that way. One thing we've learned though, is that if you have a problem with gluten, it doesn't help to say "Oh, I've reduced my gluten intake". You have to REMOVE gluten from your diet. And, you have to do it for a least four weeks to see if your symptoms disappear.
It's not quite as easy when you're traveling, but you'll never starve. If you like fruits and meats and vegetables, you'll do fine! And of course you can have rice and potatoes. But the big no-no (among other things) is of course wheat products. So, no bread or most bakery goods. Or pasta, unless it's made with rice or corn. As I said, Ruth eats this way anyhow, so it won't be that difficult for me to do the same thing.
I'll report back in a month or so and let you know how I'm doing.