Q: I have terrible pain in my big toe. The doctor says it's gout. Is there any way I can make it go away? -- Phillip P. via email
A: David Wells, former pitcher for the Yankees and the Blue Jays, says his first gout attack left him screaming like a 6- year-old girl, writhing on the floor and holding his big toe. And he's joined in gout agony by several million Americans (mostly men), as well as actor Jared Leto (who developed it when he put on 60 pounds for his role as Mark David Chapman) and, most famously, King Henry VIII.
Don't join that team! We YOU Docs want you to know that there's a lot you can do to prevent flares and pain.
Gout comes on when your body either makes too much or excretes (in your urine) too little uric acid -- a byproduct of purine, a chemical that's in almost all human tissues and some foods. It's those uric acid molecules that cause trouble when they get together and form sharp, pointy crystals that lodge in joints and tissue. So to dodge gout flares:
Step No. 1: Avoid alcohol and purine- containing foods like asparagus, organ and game meats, dried beans and peas, herring, mackerel, mushrooms, sardines and scallops. They encourage the body to overproduce uric acid.
Step No. 2: Shed excess weight; it's proven to reduce flares.
Step No. 3: Lower blood pressure; you'll remove another trigger for painful attacks.
To help you get through steps 1-2-3, we YOU Docs recommend trying a veggie-centered diet.
-- We know high-fiber foods and veggies -- as well as fruit loaded with folate and vitamin C -- protect against gout.
-- Lowfat dairy is a gout chaser too. But no low-carb diets; that'll end up making your gout worse.
-- Drink plenty of water daily to flush out uric acid.
-- Enjoy coffee -- it helps get rid of those nasty crystals, and avoid fructose- rich drinks, including orange juice.
-- Work out! And destress; tension's a big gout attack trigger.
-- Try taking glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate.
Q: We just got back from a trip to Mexico for the first time. But I could have sworn I'd seen one of the Mayan temples before. Is this deja vu, and what causes it? -- Dusty R., Newark, Ohio
A: If once a year or less your brain replays a surveillance tape, like Denzel Washington's character in "Deja Vu," you're not traveling on a supernatural information highway. It's perfectly normal: Almost three-quarters of us report we've had an eerie feeling we're experiencing something AGAIN, when we know that's just not possible. Ironically, such flashes may even signal that you've got a good memory.
What's happening? One theory is hyperactive neurotransmitters, like dopamine, that help shuttle information into both short-term and long-term memory centers, change lanes. The visual information you are seeing for the first time ends up getting sent directly into long-term memory, before it is processed into short-term memory. The result: Your brain "recalls" the image of the Mayan temple from the long-term memory storage area and that tells you it's info from the past, not the present. Deja vu!
Another theory is that these been-there-done-that feelings are a result of one eye sending information to the brain faster than the other. Almost everyone has a dominant eye; if that stronger eye sends information to the subconscious before both eyes focus and register the input as a conscious experience, your brain will tell you, "I've seen that before." And you have -- but it was just a nanosecond ago. Or maybe you've just "seen" it on the computer or TV.
So don't let your moment of vacation replay worry you. Embrace Yogi Berra's wise counsel: "It's just deja vu all over again."
(The YOU Docs, Mehmet Oz, host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen of Cleveland Clinic, are authors of "YOU: Losing Weight."