Pho- It heals what ails you.

My family has amended the old comedic adage of “take two aspirin and call me in the morning” to” take two Tylenol and 24 ounces of water and let us know how you are doing.” The modern adaptation comes from a family of NSAID allergies and the realization the majority of our families’ headaches and general malaise is from not drinking enough water throughout the day. Yesterday posed a particular challenge to keeping hydrated. I woke yesterday morning with what I was calling a “dry throat.”  I had no malaise, chills, fever or other symptoms of an infection. Recognizing this may be the first sign of an infection, but unwilling to admit it less I miss my Sunday long run I convinced myself that a few gulps of water a 2 Tylenol would fix the problem.  And 6 miles into my 13 miler I was feeling good and pleased I had not succumbed to some false symptom.  By mile 10 I was holding my own as Tony and Frank were also beginning to struggle through the humidity. I finished the run ok, but immediately felt like I had finished 18 miles. I knew something was wrong when I didn’t feel I could enjoy the normal post run coffee with my friends. Let’s pause here and stress the gravity of the statement. Many athletes have their routines. Here is what goes through my head on a long run: miles 1-4: catching up with the guys; miles 5-10: absolutely nothing to completely banal thoughts like – oh, that’s a nice tree, because this is my meditation time; and from mile 10 till the finish each step, every breath is one step closer to a large cup of coffee.   So not going for coffee was a sign of serious distress.  I headed home with a burning in my throat that made swallowing difficult, and within a couple of hours sneezing and a runny nose began to appear. Two Tylenol made little difference. And tea or orange juice faired only slightly better.  My dilemma was clear. I needed hydration but each swallow burned. I turned to my fail safe approach to hydration – pho.

Pho is a Vietnamese soup. Granted any chicken soup may have helped, but pho has become my family’s favorite for cold and flu season. A large bowel of vegetable pho gives plenty of hot water, vermicelli noodles, a vegetable (or chicken or beef) broth and a heaping of vegetables all for under $7. It’s also not as salty as most restaurant versions of chicken soup.  While not a complete cure I felt much better post-pho. If there is a point to this tale it is the importance of hydration and use of good quality soups to keep us healthy. Every culture has its favorite soup, and I am not turning my back on chicken soup with matzoh balls (lest my grandparents turn in their graves), but if you find yourself under the weather, or in the need of tasty hydration, pho may be the fix.

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1 Comment

  1. Michele S.

     /  August 10, 2012

    Steve, I am officially sold on the medicial works of pho. This week I started out with an achy neck, always my first sign of an oncoming cold. I remained in denial for a couple of days, until yesterday when I woke up with a scratchy throat, my thoughts immediately turning to my olympic distance triathlon this Sunday, and panic set in. I got to work, popped a Vit. C and Zinc (my usual routine when I feel something coming on), and went about my usual morning routine. At lunch, I hunted down a local place that offers a vegetarian pho (I’ve had trouble in the past finding one that offers veg. broth). By the end of the day I was feeling OK. Got a good night’s sleep and this morning, no signs of the would-be summer cold! Whew! I am definitely making pho a staple cold remedy from now on. Thanks for the idea!


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