Why, what and how to get rid of painful gout

Picture this… you’re sleeping soundly in your bed when all of sudden you’re jolted awake by a burning pain in your big toe joint.

It’s swollen, red and tender to the touch. You didn’t injure it. So what the heck’s going on?

Well, it’s gout — an uncomfortable form of arthritis caused by too much uric acid in your body. More than 8 million Americans have it, and it can strike at any time targeting any joint (but it usually starts in the big toe).

And if your doctor may have given you some advice that’s inadvertently contributed to this painful condition…

If you have gout, you’ll likely get woken up by one of these middle-of-the-night gout attacks at some point or another. You may also feel little lumps under your skin near your inflamed joint. These are deposits of uric acid crystals that will erode your joint if you don’t act quickly.

The best way to get rid of your body’s excess uric acid and save your joints from permanent damage is through your diet. In fact, researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine recently identified a diet that can lower your uric acid levels and prevent painful gout flare-ups almost as effectively as prescription gout medications. If you stick to it, this diet may even get rid of your gout for good…

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The gout-fighting diet

This gout-fighting diet is the Dietary Approaches To Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. It’s already been shown to lower blood pressure. And now it’s been found to significantly lower uric acid levels too…

Researchers watched as the DASH diet lowered blood uric acid levels as much as 1.3 milligrams per deciliter. Just as a point of reference, the current go-to gout medication, allopurinol, lowers blood uric acid levels by about 2 milligrams per deciliter.

The effects of the DASH diet were most dramatic for people with the highest uric acid levels… like people with gout. If you’re a gout-sufferer yourself, all you need to do to start this diet is eat:

  • Whole grains
  • Fruits and veggies
  • Low-fat or nonfat dairy products
  • Lean meat, fish and poultry
  • Nuts and beans

It’s basically a high-fiber diet that includes low to moderate fat intake. You can take a look at the DASH diet website for more detailed diet plans.

The DASH diet may be a godsend for gout sufferers. But researchers also uncovered one other interesting little dietary tidbit for people with gout…

For a long time, doctors thought eating too much salt could also cause gout flare-ups. But this time around researchers found the exact opposite. People with high sodium levels had lower uric acid levels. And people with low sodium levels had higher uric acid levels… putting them at a greater risk for gout.

So salt can still be part of a healthy diet if you have gout. Just remember to steer clear of the processed table salt and stick to natural sea salt that’s filled with minerals that will benefit your health… and maybe even your gout.

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“What Is Gout?” National Institute of Arthritis and Muskuloskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov. Retrieved August 15, 2016.

P. Juraschek et al, Effects of the Dietary Approaches To Stop Hypertension (DASH) Diet and Sodium Intake on Serum Uric Acid, Arthritis & Rheumatology (2016).

“What is the DASH Diet?” The DASH Diet Eating Plan. http://dashdiet.org. Retrieved August 15, 2016.

Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.