Gout was once only an affliction for society’s wealthy elites–those who could afford rich food and alcohol, and too much of it. Now, more than 8 million Americans suffer from it. And in most cases, it’s men. Nearly 6 percent of American men suffer from the disease and 2 percent of American women. Simply put, it’s Americans’ penchant for overindulgent lifestyles that can be blamed for the rise in gout. In normal circumstances, only 1-2 percent of adults would suffer from the disease. In the U.S., more than twice as many people struggle with it.
What is gout?
Gout is caused by the buildup of uric acid in the body, which, when it reaches a concentration tipping point, crystalizes in the joints, kidneys and elsewhere. These crystals cause the joint pain associated with gout as well as kidney stones and sometimes fatigue and high fevers.
What causes gout?
Mostly diet – Studies have found that in men who drink two or more sugary drinks per day increase their chances of developing gout by 85 percent.
Sugar and processed foods (mostly from the high fructose corn syrup that is in everything) contribute to the buildup of uric acid in the body.
Foods high in purine also contribute to the buildup of uric acid in the body. This includes organ meats, like beef liver, some fish (herring and anchovies), some mushrooms and asparagus.
The overconsumption of alcohol is a primary contributor to gout. Beer and liquor seem to be worse for gout than wine
There is a correlation between obesity and gout. Most gout sufferers are also overweight, and weight loss is one of the most reliable ways of getting rid of gout. Some research is suggesting a link between gout and insulin resistance–which is supported by the higher rate of gout among people with Type II diabetes.
How to avoid gout
Considering that lifestyle-related gout is a disease caused by a relatively extreme decadence, simply living your life with moderation in mind should shield you from gout. That being said, there is a genetic component to gout that makes some people more prone to it than others.
Nevertheless, maintain a healthy diet high in healthy fats and clean proteins and organic vegetables. Avoid sugar and processed food to a reasonable degree. Avoid the consistent overconsumption of alcohol. Get at least moderate amounts of physical exercise–even 10 minutes per day. Keep your weight at optimal levels.
For most people, a modicum of self-control will keep them gout free for life.
For others, genetic factors can contribute OR it’s too late and the gout is already affecting you. In this case, turn your attention to:
Getting rid of gout naturally
As is the case with most things, the cause is the cure. If you cut out or significantly reduce sugars, processed foods, alcohol and high-purine foods, your gout will likely disappear.
However, there are several natural foods and remedies that will help you get rid of it more quickly and manage the symptoms as they occur. Most of them simply manage inflammation–which is the most painful and damaging aspect of gout.
- Nettle tea – This is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
- Celery seed/extract/juice – Celery helps reduce uric acid buildup in the body
- Bromelain – This powerful anti-inflammatory also reduces uric acid buildup. It can be found as a supplement or in the core of pineapples
- Fish oil – Taking this as a supplement consistently over time will keep your overall inflammation down, and it’s a known remedy for all types of arthritis
- Black cherry juice – Studies have found that treatment of gout with only cherry juice reduced flare-ups by 35 percent. Add in other remedies and you’ll knock it out
- Alkalize the body – If your body is more alkaline than acidic, uric acid doesn’t stand much of a chance. You can drink alkaline water, add lemon to your water, get more magnesium in your diet and reduce acidic foods
What to eat
Foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids will help prevent and cure gout. Probably the best place to get Omega-3s is in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna. Nuts and seeds high in fiber also help flush the body of everything, including uric acid. Drink more water, which will help keep your uric acid levels lower.
Foods high in potassium help keep the fluid between your cells responsive and functioning, which clears out uric acid (among other things). This includes avocado, raw dairy products, coconut, bananas, apricots and squash.
A quick note: this post is being written directly before Christmas, when around the office, we’ve noticed that instances of gout seem to increase. Watch your diet, folks. “It’s the holidays” might be your excuse to other people and yourself, but your health doesn’t listen to your excuses.
Dr. Aaron Ernst, D.C. is host of News Talk 1110 WBT’s “AskDrErnst” show and clinic director of Maximized Living Charlotte.
He specializes in providing customized nutritional and detoxification total body healing programs, utilizing the 5 Essentials of Maximized Living.