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To Health: Not even a grain of salt

Friday, 19 January 2018 16:15:22 -0800

Mother Nature has a habit of shoving us into a corner and beating us to a pulp to make her point. Her message is something like "look you idiot, you've been doing everything wrong. So catch a clue already. I'm giving you fair warning—now deal with it."

Of course, Ma Nature doesn't give a blazing you-know-what whether we like it or not. And She cares not a whit about what we want or what we think. All we CAN do is "deal with it"—or not at our peril.

That's how it felt in the spring of 2016 when I endured a good-sized kidney stone. The episode and treatment for it were very troublesome, that's probably obvious enough. No, the unexpected and far more difficult aspect has been the "lifestyle" changes that were consequently called for.

See, I thought I knew how to take good care of myself. Turns out I had a lot to learn, the old rules didn't apply anymore. Yep, I was highly motivated to prevent another stone. But a far more insidious threat is that many kidney stone patients are subject to bone loss, osteoporosis, broken hips, and well, getting older that's not a pretty picture at all, is it?

So all of a sudden I had a lot at stake, my very bones for God's sake. The doctors drop a few hints, like drink tons of water, eat lemons, cut out dark leafy greens, reduce salt intake. It's an awful lot to "digest". Enough to prompt months of study learning about kidneys, bones and how diet matters.

Boiled down, a primary bottom-line is the crucial importance of low-sodium intake. By "low" we mean 1500mg/day ideally, certain 2000mg/day is the limit. BTW one lousy teaspoon of table salt contains over 2300 mg of sodium, essentially the recommended intake for normal healthy people.

Achieving a low sodium intake consistently is a huge challenge, far more demanding than I ever imagined before doing it for real. What makes it harder is a dearth of truly helpful info out there to answer how the hell do I make it work?

Yeah, I can read labels with the best of 'em. How annoying and tedious it is to look up 'net "experts" who just echo stuff I already know. What nobody tells us is how to make food tasty and enjoyable without using tons of salt. What's more very few professional chefs have much to offer, it's amazing how much ignorance is out there "in the wild".

Thus the adventure thrust upon me has been to create a body of recipes and techniques that support a diet that sustains health and at the same time satisfies a demanding palate.

It's taken a year and a half to develop the recipes that will be presented in these pages. The aim has been sustaining bodies and pleasures in the very same bites. When it works, believe me, it is a huge and genuine thrill.

Food & Health