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Chronic painful conditions are the bane of existence for many. It robs them of a quality of life they deserve. Some chronic conditions are not continuous, but recurring. Low back pain, migraine headaches and gout are among these. The good news is that many recurring chronic conditions are easily treatable and preventable. If not, they would not “disappear and reappear.” Today we’ll look at gout.
What is gout?
Gout is an arthritic condition, so its symptoms occur around the joints. It is the painful result of elevated levels of uric acid in the blood that accumulate in the fluid around joints, tendons and soft tissue, generally around the big toe—although any joint can be affected.
In addition to uric acid buildup, other causes of gout include genetics, a sedentary lifestyle, high consumption of alcohol and animal protein, stress and dehydration. Gout is associated with other health conditions, including kidney stones, diabetes and hypertension—all of which are preventable and so-called lifestyle diseases.
Signs and symptoms
Like rheumatoid arthritis, the signs of gout are painful swelling around the joint with the skin in the area dark red in color and warm to the touch. Uric acid crystals can build up over time in areas where repeated gout has flared, causing nodules under the skin.
Gout usually flares in the evening. At such times people complain the pain is so bad that even the pressure from a sock or the weight of a single bed sheet is painful against the affected joint. Pain increases quickly and can least several days at a time. During a flare-up people experience stiff joints, itchy skin around the joint area and sometimes fever and chills.
If left untreated, most cases of gout recur throughout one’s lifetime, leading to serious joint health issues, associated diseases and diminished quality of life. It is important, therefore, that those who get gout get on top of their conditions quickly. The best way is always prevention, but reduction of symptoms after the fact is also very important.
To understand how to prevent gout, we must know how uric acid builds up in the blood. There is a subclass of proteins called purines that, when metabolized, result in uric acid. Purines are found naturally in human tissue. However, they are also found in certain foods deemed otherwise healthy. Some drugs like aspirin and diuretics, and some vitamins like B3 and C can also lead to uric acid build up around the joints.
By controlling diet, lifestyle and medication and supplements that are correlated with gout, one can reduce the onset frequency of this rippling condition. And while corticosteroids, NSAIDs and the prescription Zyloprim are most often used to control for the symptoms of gout, below we will look at natural solutions, which carry zero or unknown side effects.
Diet is the best control
Because gout results from uric acid accumulation, and this comes mostly from the metabolism of proteins found in food, diet is a cornerstone of any natural program to reduce gout. We will look here at what foods to avoid and which to consume more of.
Specific foods and beverages to avoid
Meats — organ meats, beef, poultry, pork, lamb.
Fish — sardines, anchovies, mackerel, herring, tuna.
Seafood — scallops, shrimp, lobster.
Legumes — lentils, beans, peas.
Vegetables — asparagus, mushrooms, cauliflower, spinach.
Beverages — coffee, soda, alcohol.
Fatty and fried foods.
Increase your consumption of these foods and beverages
Water — stay hydrated!
Tart cherries — fresh, juice, or extract. Studies show 20 tart cherries a day works as well as NSAIDs.
Alkalizing liquids — like lemon juice and apple cider vinegar, and vegetable broths (excluding those containing the “bad” vegetables).
Aromatic spices — like ginger, turmeric, fenugreek.
Whole grains and fresh organic fruits and vegetables.
Low fat dairy foods — if you must consume them at all.
Bromelain and other digestive enzymes
Omega-3 fish oil
Flax seed oil
For most people, gout is a preventable condition. And for those who do get gout, it can be treated naturally and its return prevented. Lifestyle changes are necessary, and this includes exercise and dietary restrictions. Supplements can be used during the process of changing diet and lifestyle, but should not be used in lieu of lifestyle changes.