HEALTH: Got Gout?

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By Dr. Lydia

For thousands of years, gout has been known as a terribly painful arthritis. Classically linked to excess consumption of meat and alcohol, gout was known as the “disease of kings.” We now know that gout occurs because the body fails to metabolize uric acid properly. Gout happens when uric acid, a normal body waste product, builds up in the blood. If our bodies make more uric acid than our kidneys can filter, it starts ac- cumulating in our joints. Once uric acid lodges in the joints, it creates needle-like crystals that cause inflammation and pain.

The rate of gout has doubled in the past twenty years and millions of people suffer with attacks of hot, swollen, painful joints. The big toe is involved in 90% of cases; however joints like the ankle and knee can also be af- fected.

The most important thing you can do to prevent gout is to have your uric acid level checked with your routine blood work. High levels of uric acid in the blood make you more likely to develop gout. This is especially impor- tant if you have a close family member with the disease, as 20% of people with a family history get gout as well.

If you have been diagnosed with gout there are some simple things you can do to de- crease the number of attacks you experience. Start by increasing your water intake until your urine is clear. This promotes kidney filtration and uric acid removal.

Tart cherry juice is a classic remedy for gout. Both cherries and strawberries contain cyclo-oxygenase -1 and -2 which are enzymes that help your body break down uric acid. If you do not think you can eat a bowl of cherries every day, and then look for an organic tart cherry juice concentrate. One spoonful can equal as many as 50 cherries. A great dose.
Individuals with gout need to cut sugar, especially high fructose corn syrup, out of their diet. Two sugary drinks per day can in- crease your risk of gout by up to 85%. That’s huge.

Hard liquor and beer increase uric acid, thankfully, red wine has not been associated with gout. Coffee has been shown to lower the risk of gout in women.

Reducing your meat intake, especially organ meats and seafood can help your uric acid levels slightly. More effective, is to adopt a diet that sheds excess pounds. A leaner body weight and an active lifestyle help reduce your number of gout attacks. A naturopathic doctor can help guide your weight loss if it is a struggle for you.

Reducing your overall inflammatory level, with the use of fish oil, turmeric or bro- melain (an enzyme from pineapple) may offer additional benefits. Speak to a naturopathic doctor if gout attacks are hindering your quality of life.

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