Gout is a type of arthritis characterized by sudden, intense pain, redness, heat, swelling, and tenderness in the joints.
Gout usually affects the large joint of the big toe, but symptoms can occur in your feet, ankles, knees, hands, and wrists. Gout flare-ups usually last about five to 10 days.
Gout is caused by the accumulation of uric acid crystals, a waste product that's formed from the breakdown of purines -- substances found in foods such as organ meats, asparagus, anchovies, herring, and mushrooms.
During the past 20 years, gout has increased in frequency, affecting 1% to 2% of the Western population. Most of the increase is attributed to poor health (e.g. diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, circulatory issues), a sedentary lifestyle, and dietary factors that include the consumption of excess animal meat and purine-rich vegetables (e.g. beans, peas, lentils).
Alternative Treatment and Natural Remedies for Gout
The primary treatment strategy for gout is to reduce the uric acid levels.
The best natural treatment strategy to reduce these uric acid levels is a nutritional wellness protocol that is plant-based with little to no animal meat that reduces chronic inflammation and insulin resistance.
The consumption of alkaline-causing foods (e.g. plant-based foods), dark cherries, organic cherry juice, and organic apple cider vinegar along with consistent exercise physical fitness appear to decrease the risk.
In addition, raw juicing and green smoothies can help to further alkalize the body and reduce the amount of uric acid.
Other alternative treatment therapies include the following:
Eat Tart Cherries: Eating 12 to 20 cherries daily has proven to be a popular and effective home remedy for gout. Another option is to juice or blend the cherries as part of a raw juice recipe or green smoothie.
The pigments that make cherries red are called anthocyanins – plant pigments that have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Anthocyanins are found in red and purple fruits, including raspberries and blueberries, but cherries, especially tart cherries, contain higher levels and they assist the body in dissolving the uric acid crystals, helping them to be excreted by the kidneys.
Cherries are also high in potassium and contribute to helping the body maintain a slightly alkaline state, which prevents the formation of acids in the blood, especially uric acid.
In a study of 633 participants, Boston University Medical Center researchers found that eating at least 10 cherries a day protected people with existing gout from recurrent attacks. The findings were published in 2012, in a supplement to the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism.
Take a cherry extract supplement. Liquid cherry extract appears to provide the same benefits as eating tart cherries. In a retrospective study of 24 patients presented at the 2010 annual meeting of the European League Against Rheumatism, researchers at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, N.J., saw a 50 percent reduction in flare-ups when gout patients took one tablespoon of tart cherry extract – the equivalent of 45 to 60 cherries – twice a day for four months.
Limit red meat and other animal protein. Animal proteins are high in purine. Avoid or severely limit high-purine foods, such as organ meats, herring, anchovies and mackerel.
Red meat (beef, pork and lamb), fatty fish and seafood (tuna, shrimp, lobster and scallops) are associated with increased risk of gout. This also includes poultry and oily fish high in purines.
Eat fish that is low in uric acid. Although most seafood is high in purines, wild salmon and mackerel are healthy choices for their omega-3 fatty acids, which help to reduce inflammation.
However, sardines, herring, trout, tuna and anchovies should be avoided because of their high purine content.
Eat more vegetables and fruits. These foods have high water content, which helps prevent uric acid crystals from forming. Raw vegetables and fruits are also high in fiber, which absorbs bile acids produced in the liver.
Fruits such as citrus fruits, dark berries, and kiwifruit that are high in vitamin C contribute to uric acid breakdown into the urine so that it can be excreted from the body.
Cut back on animal fat. Saturated fat lowers the body's ability to eliminate uric acid. High-fat meals also contribute to obesity, which is linked to gout.
Cut back on flour, sugar and high glycemic foods. Avoid flour, sugar and especially high fructose corn syrup. High glycemic foods such as fast foods, soda, diet soda, junk food, and sweets increase blood sugar, which lowers the body's ability to eliminate uric acid. High-glycemic meals also contribute to Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance, which are linked to gout.
Increase your potassium intake. Deficiency of this mineral can cause uric acid levels in the blood to rise. Foods high in potassium include spinach, Brussels sprouts, bananas, beans, beets, apricots, cantaloupe, avocados, and potatoes with the skins on.
Drink filtered or distilled water. Drinking at least six 8-ounce glasses of filtered or distilled water each day keeps urine diluted and helps excrete it from the body before uric acid crystals can form.
Eat more whole fruit. Snack on a cup of grapes or berries (with a handful of nuts) between meals. Cherries and strawberries in particular have enzymes that help neutralize uric acid and eliminate it from the body.
Use baking soda. Add a teaspoon of baking soda to a glass of water 3 times daily to help dissolve uric acid crystals in the joints. Another option is to use organic apple cider vinegar.
Vitamin C: Some evidence suggests that vitamin C may help to reduce uric acid levels. In one well-designed study, 184 people took either vitamin C supplements (500 milligrams per day) or a placebo.
Avoid alcohol. Alcohol interferes with the elimination of uric acid from your body. Drinking beer, in particular, has been linked to gout attacks. If you're having an attack, avoid all alcohol.
Gout and Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes has been identified as a possible cause of gout because hyperglycemia and insulin resistance allow uric acid to build up in the blood.
In addition, poor circulation, which is often associated with Type 2 diabetes, contributes to the body being less able to get rid of uric acid.
As a result, crystals can collect in the extremities and joints of the body, such the toes and ankles, and cause painful outbreaks of gout.
Gout caused by diabetes is often referred to as "secondary gout" and usually occurs in elderly people who have poor eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle.
Besides diabetes, there are other risk factors, including obesity, diet and genetics. In fact, there is evidence to suggest that 20 percent of gout sufferers have a close relative who also suffers from the condition.
If you have diabetes and want to prevent gout, it is important that you take steps to improve the circulation of blood in your body so that you can prevent the build up of uric acid.
Warning for Non-diabetics: If you're not diabetic, please be aware that if the uric acid builds up in your joint, it may spill over and seep through the skin. This may increase your risk for developing hardening of the arteries because of increased inflammation caused by the uric acid. This, in turn, may increase your risk for developing metabolic syndrome, heart disease or Type 2 diabetes.
The Good News: As previously mentioned, a lot can be achieved through eating a plant-based diet, including foods that improve circulation, such as spinach, broccoli, garlic, and herbal remedies like cayenne tincture and ginkgo biloba; and, superfoods such as wheatgrass,chlorella and spirulina. And, don't forget to include regular exercise as well as drinking plenty of filtered/distilled water.
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