By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Medicine
June 18, 2012
- What you don't know about gout could help you
- A few simple suggestions that help reduce flare-ups
- Good news about what you don't have to give up to be gout-free
Most people know two things about gout: that you can get it from eating and drinking to excess, and it causes a telltale painful big toe.
What most don't know, however, is you can suffer with gout for a long time and not know it. You might mistake it for an exercise injury, or for garden-variety arthritis.
If gout runs in your family, you are more at risk of getting it yourself. But that doesn't mean you are in the clear if it doesn't.
Gout has unfortunately gone from a condition of kings and rich men, to an equal opportunity affliction.
As gout sufferers know, the most popular approach to managing gout symptoms is avoiding certain foods, such as red meat, seafood and alcohol. But in this issue, I also want to share with you a few foods and nutrients to add to your diet to remain gout-free, indefinitely…
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Gout is a form of arthritis, so symptoms also include painful joints and inflammation. The underlying cause of gout is too much uric acid in your system. Uric acid is essentially a waste product, formed when the body breaks down purines. Purines are amino acids that build proteins in your body.
So most sufferers are told to avoid foods that contain purines and hope for the best.
And because the foods highest in purines are the mainstay of the classic American meat-and-potatoes-washed-down-with-beer diet, those who are not willing to make diet changes suffer the most, sometimes by ending up with chronic gout.
But as with most diseases and conditions, Mother Nature gave us a few tools that can go a long way in preventing gout flare-ups.
You may even be able to enjoy those no-no foods in moderation if you add following foods and nutrients to your diet:
Black Cherries: Black cherries are practically a magic bullet for gout. Each berry has highly concentrated levels of flavonoids, antioxidants and anthocyanins. Now, other dark red berries such as strawberries, raspberries and blueberries are also beneficial.
But studies show the black cherry reigns supreme.
More specifically, drinking concentrated black cherry juice every day can lower uric acid by as much as 15%. And, for many people, it can be the difference between having a gout attack and staying symptom-free.
I recommend black cherry juice concentrate at a ratio of 1 teaspoonful concentrate to 5 teaspoons full of water. If you are experiencing symptoms, you'll want to increase to equal parts of each, 3-4 times a day, and make sure you eat a more alkaline diet.
If you aren't symptomatic, drink the 1:5 ratio for maintenance.
Pineapples: Pineapples are high in bromelain, a powerful, natural anti-inflammatory. You can incorporate both cherries and pineapple into your diet regularly (daily) for ongoing maintenance. You can also take bromelain as a supplement if you don't like pineapples. I recommend 500 mg. 3 times daily in between meals.
Turmeric and Curcumin: All forms of arthritis, including gout, are responsive to turmeric or curcumin for ongoing pain management with no side effects. You can take 1000 mg of curcumin, twice a day and 300 mg. 3 times a day of a standardized extract of turmeric. Or better yet, find a blend of the two specially-formulated for arthritis sufferers. With flare ups, you can increase the curcumin to 3,000 mg. twice a day safely and up to 500 mg. 3 times a day of turmeric.
Vitamin C: Another supplement shown to cut gout risk is vitamin C. A 20-year study of almost 47,000 men shows that as vitamin C increases in men's diets, the risk of gout decreases. In the study, 1,500 mg. of vitamin C a day reduced the risk of gout in men by 45%.
Just to be clear, these are not gout cures. If you are prone to the condition, you will have to manage it for the rest of your life. And for some people that may include the occasional use of drugs like colchicine, celebrex, probenecid and allopurinol.
But if you add these foods and nutrients to your diet – rather than simply try to avoid eating purines altogether, you will be less prone to flare-ups and can avoid much of the pain and suffering associated with gout. And you may be able to decrease your pharmaceutical dosages once you are getting relief from these natural cures.
And speaking of diet, the Modified Mediterranean Diet I recommend in general, is also great for gout sufferers. It will help to lower inflammation that comes with any arthritic condition, not to mention it will protect you against many other health problems, in addition to helping to prevent gout flare-ups.
And last but not least, I want to clear up another common misperception about gout management. To drink or not to drink? The answer to that question might surprise you…
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For years, gout sufferers have been told they need to avoid alcohol altogether… or pay the price. But further research has shown
that while specific alcohols are a no-no, there are some that can be enjoyed in moderation. Especially if you are taking the other precautions I've outlined above.
Beer is definitely off the table, especially the extremely popular micro-brewed varieties, which are often very high in purines.
Vodka and whiskey will raise your risk of an attack, but only half as much as beer.
However, red wine can slightly decrease your risk of gout as long as you drink no more than one glass a day.
And of course, you want to stay hydrated, since alcohol is dehydrating. You'll want to experiment cautiously at first. If you find red wine is a trigger for you, then take it back off the table. But if you suffer from gout and have been missing the occasional glass of wine with dinner, you may find this is your salvation.
Now, I wouldn't recommend a big juicy steak with that red wine, at least not while you're experimenting with your tolerance for it. In fact, it's best to only try one no-no food or beverage at a time. If you are eating a balanced diet and taking the precautions and remedies I outline above, you may find you can eat some of the foods you thought were off limits. But bear in mind that moderation is your friend and indulgence your sworn enemy.
Additional Articles of Interest
All About Gout
Chronic Back Pain
Rheumatoid Arthritis, Inflammation and Joint Pain
Choi HK, et.al., Vitamin C intake and the risk of gout in men: a prospective study. Arch Intern Med. 2009 Mar 9;169(5):502-7.
Choi HK, et.al., Alcohol intake and risk of incident gout in men: a prospective study. Lancet. 2004 Apr 17;363(9417):1277-81.