As of this writing I have never knowingly experienced gout and from what I hear, I don’t ever want to. Gout is an arthritic condition that causes excruciating and debilitating pain in the joints, most commonly in the big toe. The condition occurs when too much uric acid builds up in the blood stream causing needle like crystals to form and accumulate in the joints. Typically, too much uric acid in the blood stream is an indication that there is an imbalance between the amount of acid in the blood stream and the body’s ability to excrete the excess. This condition is known as hyperuricemia.
The Cause: Uric Acid Imbalance
Purines are in DNA and RNA are found in the cells of all living things. There are two types of purines, endogenous and exogenous. Endogenous is found in the body and exogenous is found in food. Uric acid is the waste product from purines. Problems arise when too much uric acid remains in the blood stream if the kidneys fail to properly filter and eliminate it. “Normally, about 90% of uric acid is reabsorbed into the body, and the rest is excreted in the urine and feces.” Physiological functions and pathogenic potential of uric acid: a review, El Ridi R, Tallinn H.
According to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, “Gout occurs most commonly in the big toe because uric acid is sensitive to temperature changes. At cooler temperatures, uric acid turns into crystals. Since the toe is the part of the body that is farthest from the heart, it is also the coolest part of the body and, thus, the most likely target of gout. However, gout can affect any joint in the body.”
Prevention: Proper Nutrition
Most articles that are prevalent on the internet mainly discuss medication and foods to avoid, such as sweets, sugary beverages, red meat and alcohol, especially beer. These recommendations are meant to be part of the means for preventing gout flare ups. Those things are needed, but why is the focus not on what foods should be consumed to help prevent the problem in the first place? If people are taught the benefits of what they consume versus what should be given up, I believe there will be less resistance to change. Let’s take a look at the nutritional benefits of a few foods here.
Potatoes have gotten a bad rap in the era of the low carb diet, but in essence are quite nutritious. They are a good source of magnesium and dietary fiber. They are also rich in vitamins and antioxidants which are necessary to help the body defend itself against too much inflammation that can eventually lead to sickness and disease. “These nutrients are recommended as part of healthy diet for treating gout.” University of Maryland Medical Center
Cherries have a high level of flavonoids, which may help to protect against chronic inflammation. The flavonoid called anthocyanin is what gives cherries it deep red color and also it’s antioxidant capabilities. The whole fruit is chock full of vitamins, potassium and fiber making it an excellent addition to the ‘war chest’. Can’t readily find cherries, due to there seasonality? Try cherry juice. It too has some solid health benefits that can be easily added to the meal plan.
Next on our list is Turmeric. Touted as the golden spice, turmeric dates back nearly 4000 years originating in ancient Asia. It has been used for centuries for its medicinal capabilities and also as a spice for cooking. According to Invitro Studies with Tumeric, “turmeric is traditionally used for prevention and therapy of diseases “ as a potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti microbial. Studies have shown that it can scavenge free radicals and increase antioxidant enzymes. (Cohly et al. 1998). Because the health benefits of turmeric exceed the scope of this article, I highly recommend further reading on this incredible herb. As a practical way to incorporate turmeric into the diet, it can conveniently be consumed in drinks, curry dishes and endless other recipes.
Last on our list, but certainly not least, is the amazing Avocado. According to one ‘Gout’ study from the University of Maryland Medical Center, 2016, “the B vitamins, including folate, found in avocado assist in changing the uric acid in the body into harmless compounds, thus lowering the risk of gout attacks.” Avocados are a very nutrient dense fruit and benefits the body in numerous ways. Add it to salads, smoothies, toast, soups and more to enjoy the benefits of it’s power packed goodness.
The foods that have been listed here are by no means exhausted. Other foods such as oats and pineapple have also been shown to help reduce the impact of excess uric acid in the bloodstream. On one final note, we should never leave water out of the equation when speaking on prevention. Drinking plenty of water always does more good than harm as it flushes out impurities and hydrates the building blocks of the body. Never stop searching for more nutrient rich, delicious foods to give balance to the body for a better quality of life.
Eat, Drink & Be Well…