Posted on by Paula Gallagher
Known as the King's Disease or rich man's disease, gout used to be associated with red wine and eating rich food, like red meat and chocolate. Actually, gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis that mostly targets men, and it is on the rise. The prevalence of gout has doubled in the U.S. in the last 20 years, with almost 9 million Americans affected. According to one study, the rise of obesity and hypertension are likely contributors.
Gout is triggered by crystallization of uric acid within the joints and it causes severe pain and swelling. Medical evidence suggests that gout is strongly associated with metabolic syndrome – a group of health conditions characterized by central obesity, insulin resistance, high blood pressure and blood lipid issues – and may lead to heart attack, diabetes and premature death.
How Do You Know If It's Gout?
A health care practitioner should properly diagnose you, but if your big toe throbs and is inflamed and swollen, it’s probably gout. As the condition progresses, it can affect other joints – ankles, knees, wrists, fingers and elbows. Lumps of crystals may form in the soft tissue around fingers, elbows, the rim of the ears, and big toes.
Gout attacks are usually rapid. They begin with pain, followed by heat, swelling, redness, stiffness, extreme tenderness at the affected site, and sometimes fever and muscle ache. Attacks generally last hours or days and usually affect only one joint at a time. Unfortunately, more than 75% of sufferers have future episodes, often with increasing frequency and affecting a wider range of joints. For a few, gout turns into chronic joint inflammation, similar to rheumatoid arthritis.
What Can You Do?
Although genetics play a a role, lifestyle is still a major component of developing gout. Simple changes may help avoid gout attacks.
Avoid Purine-Rich Foods
Purines are natural substances found in foods, and a diet high in purines can raise uric acid levels in the body. If you are prone to gout, here are foods to avoid:
- Meat, particularly organ meats such as liver, brains, kidneys
- Dried beans and peas
- Anchovies, herring and sardines
- Dairy products
Watch What You Drink
Alcohol and sugary drinks are no-nos. Both increase uric acid levels in the body and increase chance of developing gout. The best option is water, as it helps flush uric acid out.
Take Vitamin C
Several studies have shown vitamin C to lower blood uric acid levels. One study found that men with the highest vitamin C intake from supplements or food were less likely to develop gout than those with the lowest intake – those taking 1,500 mg daily as supplements had a 45% lower risk. If you take more than this, though, it may have the opposite effect and cause flare-ups. So avoid megadoses, unless you consult with a healthcare practitioner.
Drink Cherry Juice
Pure cherry juice has shown promise in helping reduce inflammation associated with gout. It can also be taken as a supplement.
For more information, or a personalized consultation about treating gout naturally, please contact Village Green Apothecary.
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