What is Gout?
Gout is an condition that results from having too much uric acid in the blood. It's actually a form of arthritis. When the uric acid crystallizes in the joints, it can cause severe pain, usually in the big toe. People who have gout are often males (90% are men) who eat and drink too much and are overweight but this is not always the case. Several years ago I was shocked to find that the excruciating pain in my husband's toe was diagnosed as gout. At 49 years old, trim and eating a balance "plant centric" diet, he did not exactly fit the profile of someone with gout. But he had it, none the less. We went into "overdrive" trying to find a natural way to cure this painful condition.
How do you get Gout?
Uric acid build up is a result of eating certain "purine" rich foods and your body's inability to adequately remove the uric acid. Some of the foods high in purines include:
Meat: Beef, pork, lamb, meat-based gravies, poultry and organ meats.
Seafood: Anchovies, codfish, haddock, herring, mussels, sardines, scallops, trout and fish eggs.
Beverages: Alcohol, especially beer.
Vegetables/Legumes: Asparagus, cauliflower, mushrooms, spinach, peas, lentils dried beans.
Other: Oatmeal, breads with yeast,
Other things cause cause a rise of uric acid which can lead to gout. These include stress, injury, chemotherapy, obesity, kidney failure and potassium deficiency.
What You Can Do
Fresh or frozen cherries can neutralize uric acid. Cherries are in season right now so eat plenty of them. You can also drink unsweetened cherry juice. Strawberries are also beneficial.
Other Dietary Measures
* Avoid the high purine foods listed above, especially meat. Avoid sugars, saturated fats and rich foods like cakes and gravies. Reduce diuretic foods, coffee, sodas, tea with caffeine, and alcohol.
* Eat lots of raw fruits and veggies along with some grains, nuts and seeds.
* Drink lots of pure water. Many recommend distilled. I've also seen some recommend alkaline water.
* Eat foods high in potassium. The RDI of potassium is 3,500 mg and it's safe to take more. Foods high in potassium include baked potatoes with their skins, yams, bananas, avocados and dried apricots, to name a few. Drink high potassium Potato Skin broth. See recipe below.
While researching this topic, I found a number of natural supplements that support the immune system and have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Many of them contain cherry extract, turmeric (a powerful antioxidant) and rutin (a citrus bioflavonoid). Check out the Gout Treatment association for a review of Top Natural Gout Treatment Options. Their top pick is Uricelax. Uricelax contains tart cherry extract along with natural COX-2 inhibitors that relieve inflammation. Other ingredients are said to "minimize uric acid accumulation in joints, decrease water retention, promote healthy kidney function and promote healthy immune system function".
Weigh Loss and Risk of Gout
In a 12 year study of 47,000 middle age men, Massachusetts General Hospital researchers found a strong connection between weight loss and a substantial reduced risk of gout. They noticed that men who had gained 30 or more pounds in adulthood doubled their risk of getting gout. But men who had lost at least 10 pounds cut their risk of gout by 40%. They also found that gout risk increases with high blood pressure and the use of water pills (diuretics).
Although losing weight is important for gout management, it is not healthy to go on a crash diet since that could result in an increase of uric acid levels in the blood.
A Caution with Pain Killers
Avoid aspirin as it can raise the level of uric acid in your blood. Ibuprofen does not do this so if you are going to take pain killers, only use ones with ibuprofen.
High Potassium Potato Skin Broth
(To restore your potassium levels)
Peels from 5 large scrubbed potatoes (keep about 1/2 inch of the potato)
1 large carrot, sliced
1 stalk of celery, sliced
5 cups water
1/2 small onion, peeled and cut in 4 pieces
Combine ingredients and simmer covered for 1 hour. Cool, strain and drink.