What is Gout ?
The damp fall weather seems to aggravate a lot of health conditions including gout ! Characterized by swelling, excruciating pain and tenderness in the extremities, gout usually affects the knees, ankles, foot joints , hands , wrist , fingers and elbows. Gout is a painful form of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid. This uric acid buildup is also known as hyperuricemia, the medical name for high uric acid in your blood. If you have gout, high uric acid can form crystals in your joints. When that happens, it can lead to inflammation that causes extremely painful gout attacks.
Causes of Gout:
Old school of thought was that “Diet” caused gout ! Indeed, centuries ago it was called the disease of kings and associated with rich foods eaten by the wealthy. Now we know that is just a food myth. Like every other disease , some people are more prone to gout than others. Genetic make up, family history, how your body handles uric acid build up can all be causes. In some people, uric acid builds up in the blood because their body produces too much of it. In the rest ( about 90%), the kidneys don’t eliminate uric acid efficiently, causing it to build up.
Although diet alone is not the “key” to managing gout, it can make a huge difference in managing symptoms. Purine rich foods must be avoided to reduce build up of uric acid. In addition having a healthy weight, exercising , drinking a lot of non alcoholic fluids to help the kidney flush efficiently can help lessen severity of gout.
Foods to avoid
These are basically “purine rich foods ” which lead to formation of uric acid. Keep in mind that 2/3 of uric acid is produced naturally by the body while only 1/3 is from food.
Avoid these foods ( Very high in uric acid)
Decrease consumption of these food ( moderately high in uric acid )
Chicken, other fish, black gram dhal, meat gravies,
Lower purine meats : Short of asking you go vegan or veggie, I can suggest consuming meats like pork, veal , cray fish, corned beef which are lower in purine than other meats. Limit your intake to 4 to 6 ounces/ day. Go veggie for one meal. Click here for a complete list of purine content in foods.
Other Dietary guidelines
Limit saturated fat : Saturated fat lowers the body’s ability to eliminate uric acid. Scan labels for signs of saturated fat and trans fat. Healthy fats like monounsaturated fats ( found in olive oil, vegetable oils, avocado ) are safe. Get your protein from beans, legumes and soybeans and eat low-fat dairy. Just a note : purine is found in fish flesh, not fish oil, so as long as your fish oil is from a purified, good source it is alright.
Limit or avoid alcohol : alcohol again interferes with the elimination of uric acid. Beer in particular is a strong interfering agent. The safest alcohol when you don’t have an attack is red wine in moderation.
Foods that help Gout
Water : Hydrate ! You help your kidneys get rid of uric acid and other toxins when you drink up ! Aim for 8 to 12 glasses a day. The more you drink, the more uric acid you will excrete making it so much easier on your body. Drinking water has so many other benefits as well ! Read my post on hydration to see what counts as a fluid.
Lemon juice : Lemon juice is mildly acidic and high in potassium and citrate, an ingredient that helps prevent the crystallization of uric acid into urate kidney stones and gout. Spike water with lemon juice.
Saffron or curicumin: Foods with saffron or curicumin aka turmeric can help neutralize uric acid. This is a powerful antioxidant that adds flavor to recipes. Read my post on curicumin power to get some ideas to add curicumin in your diet. Add it to cooked salads, curries, soups etc. You can also add saffron strands to hot low-fat milk . It makes a yummy flavored beverage.
Cherries : Cherries and cherry juice have been used for centuries to treat gout. The secret behind cherries’ gout-fighting powers isn’t entirely understood but studies have shown lowered attacks of gout on people who consume cherries or cherry juice or cherry extract on a regular basis. It could be the high vitamin C or the anti-inflammatory properties of the cherry that contribute to this. Since cherries are such a lovely fruit beneficial for so many other ailments as well, just eat it and see. It may help your gout !
Apart from these diet tips, generally eating a high fiber, low processed, complex carbohydrate diet with an emphasis on whole grain and veggies is a good bet for anyone suffering from gout. Be your own guide. When the pain hits, go easy on high purine foods and drink lots of water.
Do you have any natural foods or remedies that you have for gout ? Please share. Would love to hear from you !