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Gout Flare-Ups? Foods, Supplements & Treatments for Relief
Gout, also sometimes called gouty arthritis, is a type of acute inflammation of the joints. It affects about 2 million Americans with middle aged men as its target population. Gout doesn’t usually affect women until after menopause and even then, more men are affected by it. Gout has a special affinity for the foot, especially the big toe, but all joints are susceptible to gout. Gout can cause excruciatingly painful episodes of inflammation in the feet and joints. Acute cases can cause major disability or kidney failure.
Gout is caused by an excess of uric acid in the blood and deposits of needle-like crystals of uric acid in the joints. It is often considered the “disease of kings” since overindulging in purine-rich food and alcohol can bring on an acute attack of gout. Purines break down into uric acid. Excess intake of carbohydrates and overeating in general may also encourage higher levels of uric acid to build up, increasing risk not only for gout but also for obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Most physicians are trained to write a prescription or recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to treat gout, but there are many preventive measures that an individual can take to try and prevent gout from happening in the first place.
Alcohol has long been implicated as a causative factor in gout — and a recent study concluded that men who consumed as little as 2 to 4 beers a week increased their risk of gout by 25 percent. Those who drank 2 beers a day were over 200 percent more likely to develop gout than non beer drinkers. The take-home message here is more beer = more gout. And why? Because beer is high in purines. In terms of hard liquor, two or more liquor drinks daily translated in the study's findings to a 60 percent higher risk of gout. An interesting note to this study was that there wasn’t an increase in risk of gout among wine drinkers.
Although there may be a genetic link to gout, there are many proactive lifestyle changes that can be made to decrease the risk considerably.
First, people with gout need to avoid foods that contain high levels of purines. These foods that can cause gout flare-ups include:
organ meats like liver
fatty red meats
... and even foods like spinach, asparagus, poultry, and mushrooms, which contain moderate levels of purines.
Foods to help prevent gout flare-ups and symptoms include cherries and other berries like blueberries because they provide a plentiful source of antioxidants and can help prevent and decrease inflammation.
Next, if you are a known gout sufferer (or suffer with kidney stones, which are also caused by excess uric acid), drink plenty of water. Water can help dilute the urine and flush excess uric acid from the body. Aim for at least eight 8-ounce glasses daily.
There are also a few dietary supplements that may help prevent gout attacks from occurring, or may help rid the body of symptoms once a bout has begun.
- Bromelain, taken without food at a dose of about 350 milligrams twice daily. can help to decrease inflammation (and pain as a result of that).
- Fish oil or flax seed oil may also inhibit the production of inflammatory chemicals in the body.
- The herbs turmeric, Boswellia, and devil’s claw may also help decrease inflammation and may be a benefit to those suffering with gout.
- One other supplement worth noting is quercetin. Quercetin acts as a sort of natural antihistamine and it also inhibits the production of uric acid. A typical dose is about 300 milligrams twice or three times daily (between meals).
Consult your doctor before using any health treatment — including herbal supplements and natural remedies — and tell your doctor if you have a serious medical condition or are taking any medications. The information presented here is for educational purposes only and is in no way intended as substitute for medical counseling.