The good thing about gout’s underlying causes is that unlike many afflictions, genetics play a relatively minor role compared to factors such as diet and weight. This means that in many cases, you can exercise a level of control over your symptoms through a combination of diet and lifestyle changes.
First, a basic understanding of gout and what causes its symptoms. Gout is a form of arthritis (referred to as metabolic arthritis) in which too much uric acid is produced, which leads to the formation of crystals in the body. This disease occurs when these crystals aren’t cleared out by the kidneys but instead find their way into the joints, causing swelling, stiffness and sometimes excruciating pain. The big toe is most often affected but other foot joints, including the fingers, wrists, elbows, ankles and knees can be stricken too.
Once you understand what causes it, you can clearly see why certain gout remedies are successful in keeping flare-ups at bay:
Dietary changes are your first line of defense. Foods that contain a high level of purines are the biggest culprit, as purines break down into uric acid. It’s best to avoid or at least limit the following high-purine foods:
- Organ meats, such as liver, kidneys and sweetbreads
- Game meats
- Other meats such as beef, lamb, pork and bacon
- Certain seafood such as sardines, anchovies, mackerel, herring and scallops
Avoidance of high-sugar and alcoholic beverages is another remedy which can prove beneficial. Alcoholic beverages, as well as those sweetened with fructose (such as juices and other sugary drinks) are not well tolerated and should be avoided. Instead, one of the easiest gout remedies is simply drinking more water. Not only does this enable you to avoid the compounds that cause excess uric acid, it helps flush uric acid and other waste products out of the body.
Getting exercise and maintaining a healthy weight are gout remedies which may not seem as easy for you to achieve, but the fact is that the link between obesity and gout is well known.
In fact, a 2011 article published in Arthritis Care & Research states that obesity may cause gout to occur at a younger age.2
Weight loss cannot only reduce the risk of developing the disease, but it can reduce the risk of future flares.
Medication is often prescribed, either to ease the pain of an ongoing gout attack (such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) or corticosteroids), while other types of drugs can be used, if needed, to prevent the build-up of uric acid to help ward off future attacks.
Remember: It’s important to consult your doctor prior to starting any diet or exercise program, or prior to using medications.
While gout is increasingly common, there’s no reason to let the fear of pain and inflammation interfere with a healthy, normal life. In fact if simple, common sense steps such as the ones listed above are taken, there’s a much greater chance of living an even fuller life than ever before!
2 Mara A. McAdams DeMarco, Janet W. Maynard, Mary Margret Huizinga, Alan N. Baer, Anna Köttgen, Allan C. Gelber and Josef Coresh. “Obesity and younger age at gout onset in a community-based cohort.” http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/acr.20479/abstract. Accessed April 9, 2015.