If you suffer from gout, you’ll know exactly how painful it can be. Gout is actually a type of arthritis, which causes stiff, swollen and painful joints; it happens when uric acid levels build up in your blood.
Uric acid is the waste product formed from the breakdown of food and the body’s cells. What you eat plays a hugely important role in both causing gout, and in reducing your likelihood of suffering from these painful symptoms.
5 Steps to Reduce Your Gout Symptoms
1. Lose Weight
If you are overweight, losing weight will help to reduce the uric acid levels in your blood, and also reduce the stress on your joints, such as your hips, knees, ankles and feet.
You should, however, avoid crash dieting because severely restricting your food intake for long periods of time, then losing weight quickly, can actually increase your uric acid levels, and this may trigger another attack of gout.
2. Exercise Regularly
A regular exercise regimen is essential when you have gout, just as it is for everyone.
Exercise is not, however, recommended while your joints are inflamed, as it may cause further injury.
But, once your symptoms are under control again, you should try to fit some exercise into your day. Being physically active can help to prevent further gout attacks by increasing circulation, and helping to normalize uric acids levels.
3. Eat a Healthy Diet
Eating a healthy diet is extremely important for treating gout naturally.
Gout is caused by inflammation, and your diet plays a huge part in this, which means you can reduce inflammation by following a healthy diet plan.
Avoid Soft Drinks
Research published in 2008, found that there is a strong association between sugar sweetened soft drinks and gout. Researchers found that drinking two servings of a sugar sweetened soft drink per day, increased the risk of developing gout by 85%.
What this means, is that one solution to reducing your risk of gout is very easy to implement: eliminate soft drinks and fruit juices from your diet.
I strongly recommend that if you suffer from gout, you drastically reduce or eliminate most of the sugar in your diet, too, as an essential step to dealing with this condition.
If you drink alcohol, you also need to reduce or eliminate your alcohol intake, as it has been shown to increase the levels of uric acid in the blood, which could lead to a gout attack.
At the very least, you should not be taking more than 1 to 2 units of alcohol per day. If you exceed your intake of alcohol, there are drug rehab facilities available for treatment.
The general rule is that you need to drink around 8 to 10 glasses of fluid per day (1–1.5 litres).
However, everyone is different, and the only way to know for sure if you are well hydrated, is to check the color of your urine. If it is light in color, you are well hydrated. If it is dark in color, you need to drink more fluids, especially more water.
Avoid High Purine Foods
Avoiding certain foods is also thought to be beneficial in reducing the likelihood of gout attacks.These are high purine foods, and some of these include,
- Meat, particularly red meat, and offal such as liver, kidneys and heart
- Game such as, pheasant, rabbit and venison
- Seafood such as, mussels, crab, shrimps, other shellfish, anchovies, herring, mackerel, trout, sardines and caviar
- High yeast containing foods like Marmite, and drinks like beer
- Mushrooms, and fungal proteins like mycoprotein
Many believe that gout suffers need to avoid dairy foods.
Research, however, suggests that those with the highest intake of dairy have the lowest risk of gout. In fact, in one study researchers found a 44 percent lower risk of being diagnosed with gout in the highest dairy consumers.
Research does make it clear that all purine-containing foods are not the same. For example, plant purines are much safer than the purines found in meat and fish, in terms of gout risk.
Ideally, you should try to limit your consumption of higher purine foods most of the time. However, it is not necessary to cut them completely from your diet. When you do eat them, just do so in smaller portions.
Get Some Antioxidants
Interestingly, cherries are thought to help relieve and prevent gout in the body. This is due to the anthocyanins and bioflavonoids, which cherries contain.
Other antioxidant rich fruits include strawberries and all other berries, so it’s a good idea to eat these regularly, too.
4. Boost Your Vitamin C Levels
Studies show that taking vitamin C supplements can reduce the risk of developing gout. Research indicates that 500mg of vitamin C per day is the optimal level for lowering uric acid levels.
5. Note Trigger Foods
Most people who suffer from gout will be able to distinguish certain foods which make their symptoms worse. If you can make this correlation, it is obviously best to avoid your trigger foods, at least for a short time, to see if your symptoms improve.
Try keeping a diary with these trigger foods and exactly how you think they have affected your symptoms, as a way of understanding clearly which foods you need to be cautious of.
You may find that some foods trigger your symptoms after eating just once. However other foods don’t trigger your symptoms so rapidly, and therefore it may be fine to eat these foods from time to time in smaller portions.
Do you have gout? How do you deal with your symptoms?