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Gout


What is gout?

It is a type of arthritis (also known as gouty arthritis) that happens when your body is unable to process uric acid properly. This causes the blood uric acid levels to increase and it comes out as crystals in joints, commonly in the big toe.

When this happens it causes severe pain in the affected joint.

What are the symptoms of gout?

Symptoms include excruciating and sudden pain and stiffness of the joints. It commonly affects the big toe. There also may be symptoms such as swelling and fever. In some people, the pain is so great that even putting a blanket over the toe causes pain.

What are some foods I should avoid?

To reduce the risk of painful attacks, consider avoiding or limiting the following foods:
  • meat (of all types)
  • poultry
  • tofu
  • seafood
  • beer
  • sweetbreads
  • lentils & peas
  • asparagus
  • cauliflower
  • mushrooms
  • spinach
  • sardines & anchovies
  • soft drinks (high-fructose corn syrup increases uric acid levels)
  • foods containing sucrose (candies, jams and jelly)
  • pies and cakes (containing large amounts of sucrose)
  • consomm├ęs
  • gravies
  • brewer's yeast

What are some gout friendly foods?

Don't forget to drink enough water to avoid dehydration.

So, here are some gout friendly food recommendations:
  • cherries (contains lots of vitamin C, known to lower uric acid levels)
  • cherry extract
  • cheese
  • rice
  • green vegetables
  • corn
  • nuts and seeds
  • whole grains foods

I've been recommended to take cherries. Does it work?

Yes. A clinical study (Jacob 2003) showed that eating 280 g (2 servings) of cherries brought down the uric acid levels in the blood. The researchers believed that it was the combination power of vitamin C along with benefits of anthocyanins found in cherries that did the trick.

Anthocyanins is the chemical that gives the cherries their bright red colours. It is a potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory substance that helps to reduce the pain and swelling.

I've heard that drinking coffee is good if you suffer from gout?

Yes. Again. A study done by Choi (2007) clearly showed that "long-term coffee consumption is associated with a lower risk of incident gout." Drinking 4-5 cups daily seemed to do the trick of reducing the risk. It is interesting to note that it is not the caffeine content that mattered. It was the fact that it was coffee!

Perhaps it's the water found in coffee that worked? (The researchers didn't look into this during their 12-year long study, so we will never know.)

I've heard that applying heat to the joints helps.

There is anecdotal report that it works. Lowered body temperature makes the uric acid crystals more likely to form. It is believed that the big toe tends to be cooler than the rest of the other joints because it is further away from the body and probably has a bit less blood circulation.

Give it a try. Of course, don't try this when you are having a painful attack! You may want to try this when you sleep, by keeping your toes covered with the blanket. During the day, wearing socks would keep the toes warmer.

Use a heat blanket if necessary but don't leave it on when you sleep (unless it has an automatic shut-off timer). A hot water bottle would be a safer choice.

I want to avoid using prescriptions drugs? Any thoughts?

Indeed, for the prevention of painful attacks, a change in your diet is key. It is a difficult thing to do, for sure, but necessary. No amount of natural remedies for gout (or even prescription drugs) will help your situation if you didn't cut back on meat and beer. We suggest making dietary changes slowly. Don't forget to drink enough water as well.

What are some of the best natural remedies for gout treatment?

See this detailed report of all the natural remedies for gout treatment. It is complete with comments and the recommended dose to use.

So to summarize, what should I do for gout?

Here are the basic steps that one should take to prevent future attack of pain.
  1. Drink 8 glass of water to avoid dehydration. Coffee is shown help reduce the risk of gout so coffee counts towards your 8 glass of fluids per day.

  2. Look to see what your diet consists of and make one or two changes. For example, if you drink beer, you will need to cut back or even stop it all together. See if you are able to cut back on meat consumption.

    Don't try to make sudden and drastic changes to your diet; you won't like it and neither does your body! You are more likely to follow the changes if you do it gradually as you and your taste bud will better adapt.

  3. Consider using natural remedies for gout treatment. These will help keep the inflammation and pain under control.

  4. Use non-prescription and prescription anti-inflammatory drugs only during extreme or sudden painful attacks. Use them only occasionally when possible and as a last resort.

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Return to Health Conditions List
References for Gout
Revised: September 4, 2010

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