If you have gout, listen up!
According to the research, there’s no mistaking it: your dietary choices hugely affect how you feel.
Gout is a painful arthritic condition that causes soreness, pain, and redness in joints. The pain can be sudden and severe. Sometimes, sufferers wake up in the middle of the night with sensations like their joints are on fire.
This discomfort is caused by the buildup of uric acid in joints. Uric acid is normally in your urine and is a normal metabolic byproduct of purine - a component of in a variety of foods but mainly animal products. This acid crystallizes in joints if too much of it is built up, resulting in inflammation-caused pain.
You should see a doctor if you are experience sudden intense pain in your joints because gout can lead to even worse pain and damage to joints.
Some symptoms of gout are:
Many pharmaceutical medications can be used to treat gout - NSAIDs like Ibuprofen, other anti-inflammatory drugs, and drugs that block uric acid production in the body. However, these medications come a list of nasty possible side effects like nausea, mood disturbances, vomiting, reduced liver function, etc.
Luckily the foods you eat have a huge impact on whether you develop gout and how bad the symptoms are. By following some dietary tips and staying away from the wrong foods, you can lower your uric acid levels and minimize gout symptoms.
Many animal products are very high in purines, which convert to uric acid, exacerbating gout attacks . Legumes are a good, healthy plant source of protein that can help replace protein that would have come from animal products.
Beans are legumes - pretty much any type of bean you can think of - navy beans, black beans, pinto beans (you get the point). Peanuts are also legumes.
Legumes are very healthy and easy on the wallet. They give you plenty of vitamins, minerals, fiber that feeds your good bacteria, and, very importantly, lots of antioxidants. Many people could benefit from eating a little less meat and more beans but people suffering from gout could benefit a lot from utilizing them.
Even plant foods that have moderate purine content, like soy, do not appear to increase risk for gout. In women who consumed soy, their uric acid levels did not increase .
These are another good source of protein that doesn’t come purine-rich animal products.
Why is it so important to limit meat? Of course, meat typically has much higher purine content than plant foods but research shows that meat may even further contributes to gout by decreasing the excretion of uric acid , so it appears that meat worsens gout in at least two different ways.
Fresh plant foods contain vitamin C, which is associated with reduced gout risk . Supplementation with vitamin C has been shown to significantly reduce blood uric acid levels . So it appears that it is indeed vitamin C that is responsible for anti-gout effects and not some other component of vitamin C-rich foods.
Studies found that over a period of 20 years, men with higher intakes of vitamin C were less likely to develop gout .
Cherries are full of anthocyanin antioxidants and are a nice tasty and healthy treat.
These fruits have been shown to reduce the chance of having gout attacks . It was also importantly noted that cherries had their beneficial effects regardless of lifestyle or dietary factors in the participants’ lives. Smoking, purine intake, and alcohol didn’t stop the cherries from working their magic and reducing gout attacks .
Cherries are evidenced to lower uric acid levels . Cherries also have anti-inflammatory effects . Gout attacks are largely a result of inflammation that occurs because of uric acid buildup in joints. If inflammation can be reduced, pain can be reduced.
Way back in 1950, researchers knew that cherries could play a role in gout relief .
In men, long-term coffee consumption is associated with lower gout risk . The same is true in women . Coffee consumption is also associated with lower uric acid levels. Researchers held that components other than caffeine were responsible for these beneficial effects .
A note about coffee: Some coffee manufacturers believe that coffee is healthiest when roasted at the right temperature - if it’s roasted too much, mutagenic compounds are formed and antioxidant content is reduced.
Fiber is considered a factor for “protection” against gout . Supplemental fiber has shown a mild uric acid-lowering effect . In rats, fiber reduces uric acid as well .
Dietary fiber was “significantly” associated with lower uric acid levels in humans . It is thought that fiber interrupts the absorption of purines from the intestines .
Leafy greens like lettuces, kale, chard, and others are great sources of folate. This B-vitamin plays a role in uric acid metabolism and appears within lower levels. In hypertensive humans, folate lowers blood uric acid levels . Folate even interferes with the damaging effects that uric acid crystals have on nerves .
When folate is combined with a drug, the blood uric acid levels lowered more dramatically than with the drug alone .
Animal products that are very high in purine exacerbates gout, so it is best to stay away from them. Never eat livers, which are extremely high in purines and try to minimize seafood and other meats.
Along with dietary changes, making use of especially therapeutic natural ingredients will also help get of uric acid. Some of these ingredients are:
In humans, cherry consumption was associated with a 35% lower risk of gout attacks . The anthocyanin antioxidants, which are anti inflammatory, are thought to be responsible for this effect. Black cherries are very rich in anthocyanins.
Convincingly, animal and human studies have shown that cherry lowers blood levels of uric acid . That is high quality evidence for sure!
This herb has long been used as an anti-inflammatory and liver-protective medicine . Medical literature also confirms its traditional usage in treating gout . Since inflammation of the joints is responsible for much of the discomfort associated with gout, yarrow probably helps to minimize this inflammation.
In numerous traditional medicine systems, including Persian and Chinese medicine, yarrow has been used for treatment of pain . And at least some modern research has validated the traditional use of yarrow, for instance it’s anti-inflammatory properties .
Many people with high uric acid levels have found help in devil’s claw and this is probably partially to do with its anti-inflammatory effect observed in humans. In one study, treatment with this herb reduced major inflammatory enzymes - COX-1 and COX-2 by between 29.5 and 32.7% .
Devil’s claw has also been evidenced to lessen the need for pain-relieving medications . In rats, this herb’s anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects are confirmed .
This is a confirmed anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving herb . It has been used to lower joint pain, like that seen in gout, and it does this by lowering inflammatory signallers like tumor necrosis factor-α and nuclear factor-kappa B . The phytochemical antioxidants in white willow are thought to be responsible for the plant’s anti-inflammatory effects .
Importantly, any potential side effects of white willow are “minimal” when compared to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin . White willow is effective and you’ll probably feel better from taking it than you will with aspirin.
One review of studies on white willow confirmed the herb’s efficacy in lessening pain .