Perhaps there’s more physiological science to all those studies showing drinkers out live non-drinkers than we know. They’ve always been chalked up to psychology and/or coincidence. After months of trying every sort of drug, holistic, and nutritional protocol known to the medical community the only thing that’s worked for raising my platelet levels is booze. Last week I began drinking again. Coincidentally or not, my platelet counts have made the largest jump since I received my transplant in January. Bartender, make it a double.
Whether or not these things are actually related, because there’s no scientific study that will show a dot-to-dot connection, I’m going to roll with it in today’s post. The up side, besides martinis and beer, is that life is getting back to normal.
Could drinking really be good for you?
Remember that this entire to-do began with lots of holistic stuff not working, followed by the elimination of all supplements, vitamins, and even botanical ingredients (coffee and tea) in favor of a more kid-style diet to allow the body’s natural hormones, less influenced, take over. This was followed with drug regimens. None of which worked. At all.
The latest, which I’m tapering off of, is prednisone, a strong steroid with anti-inflammatory properties that’s used for many illnesses featuring inflammation. Since it has side effects, we waited until “last” to try it. And while it has seemed to improve the recovery of my lung function and red blood cell counts, it crushed my platelets, so we cancelled its application after two weeks and began to taper off, which coincided with Todd and Patty’s visit from England.
Given I’m feeling good in general, and there’s no science showing drinking is bad in such cases, I had my first proper cocktail of the year the night they arrived. The next day’s blood work was up, so I kept going. A week later I’m improving fast enough the docs decided to hold off on a new medication that’s designed to raise platelet counts (a med so new they haven’t tried it yet, which is why it wasn’t on the list until now). My counts are far from normal, so it still may come into play, but I’m going to enjoy my evening’s cocktails until something points towards evidence that there’s a better tactic for recovery.
Whether this is physiological, psychological, or just coincidence is worth serious study. As reports roll in about alcohol and lifestyle we’ve no choice but to consider it effective for human longevity. Every “blue zone” (geographic areas with the longest life spans on earth) feature lifestyles with some type of alcohol consumed on a daily basis. In one massive study, done over decades across the world, even the heaviest drinkers out lives teetotalers (see link below).
While it might be as simple as what most of us hypothesize, the more relaxed you are about life, the less you stress, the longer you tend to live, there very well could be a physiological reason beyond that. A very well researched article by Stanley Peele titled The Truth We Won’t Admit: Drinking Is Healthy goes into the subject in some depth.
Flash forward to 2011, when the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans were finally released by the Department of Agriculture and HHS. One reason for their delayed publication was the uproar raised by public health organizations to the Guidelines’ alcohol committee’s report of “strong evidence” that moderate drinking prevents heart disease, and the “moderate evidence” that it prevents dementia. Such battles are old hat: Similar campaigns against mentioning alcohol’s health benefits are mounted every five years when the Guidelines threaten to include them, starting with South Carolina senator and teetotaler Strom Thurmond’s strenuous objections to the 1995 edition.
Epidemiological study after study (that is, research tracing drinkers, their consumption, and their life outcomes) produces consistent findings—there are now hundreds of such studies. But whenever any sort of research can be teased out to suggest drinking is bad for you, it will be put on full display to confuse the picture.
Sure, there are downsides to drinking. But what doesn’t have downsides?
Safe processed foods lack pathogens but also nutrients. Consumed wrong we get fat and sick.
Natural foods are loaded with nutrients but leaving them unprocessed increases risk of pathogens, which can leave us sick or dead.
Supplements, which often target superfoods, but also come with by products of condensed ingredients that can be toxic in high levels.
Ditto for vitamins.
With more than 20,000 positive studies, coffee and tea have high profile negatives.
And drugs, which can work like miracles for certain things, all come with a laundry list of side effects that fill 99% of their advertising time and likely kill more people than they save.
The fact is that all life-giving elements on earth are toxic at some level. As Examine reported, almost every nutrient researched as an isolated ingredient seems to cause cancer, no matter how healthy they are in reality. It’s life’s ying and yang. Roll with what works.
One thing I should point out about my drinking is that I’m no fan of physical impairment that keeps me from doing things, like hangovers. Therefore, I rarely drink enough to get them. Any drinking beyond what can be cured by two glasses of water, my morning ritual, is saved for “special” occasions. But that’s just my opinion. The science shows you can drink pretty much however you want.
My platelet-boosting favorite: The Classic Gibson
This is the first proper cocktail I consumed. Recommended for old school drinkers who eschew the modern over-sweetening of classic cocktails, and Cary Grant fans. It’s a standard martini with an onion.
2 oz of old school gin, such as Beefeaters, Gordon’s, Bombay. None of that modern aromatic swill.
¼ cap of dry vermouth.
Shaken, like a tornado, until the shaker is frosted completely.
Strain and pour, when it should be cloudy with ice shards floating in the mix.
Garnish with an onion, or an olive if you prefer a Classic Martini.
For those of you wondering how serious I am, I’ll leave you with the words of Roger Thornhill.
“I’ve got a job, a secretary, a mother, two ex-wives and several bartenders that depend upon me, and I don’t intend to disappoint them all by getting myself ‘slightly’ killed.”
There is one-more possible reason for my platelet boost, my training. Since it’s deserves it’s own post, we’ll look at prednisone, exercise and weigh gain next week.