What is Gout? - A Royal Pain
In addition to his famous succession of wives, King Henry the Eighth is also remembered as a sufferer of a painful form of arthritis known as gout. No one can say for sure if the notorious monarch actually suffered from this disorder, or if his doctors would have recognized the cause or been aware of treatment options. However, what we do know of his heredity, lifestyle and eating habits, supports the idea that at least some of his pain and habitual infirmity may have been caused by gout.
Too much uric acid
In case you don’t know, gout is characterized by the painful swelling of joints, most commonly the big toe, and is caused by a build-up of a crystalline substance, called uric acid, a product of protein metabolism. In addition to the localized pain, a gout sufferer may experience chills and fever as the body tries to deal with the inflammation.
Why it hurts
Uric acid is produced as a normal consequence of protein metabolism that is usually excreted by the kidneys. In the case of gout, either due to a hereditary predisposition, lifestyle, or both, these sharp-edged crystals are deposited in the joints, tendons, kidneys and other soft tissues, causing pain.
Think of taking a prickly burr and wedging into the soft tissues of your body, and you will get an idea of why gout is so painful. If left untreated these crystals can form larger clumps around the joints that can be debilitating.
Men get it more than women
Gout is twice as common in men than in women and the incidence seems to be on the rise, along with so many diet and lifestyle-related disorders. The most common sufferer is male, above 40 years of age and overweight.
MY TWO CENTS
My Dad suffered from gout, so this disorder is personal for me. I have been lucky to avoid it, but I was familiar with its painful consequences as I watched my Dad suffer from the time I was a child.
When I researched this subject, I found some real contradictions between health care experts about the best foods to eat if you have gout. One expert pointed to a study that showed eating low-fat milk and yogurt helps prevent gout, while another had those same foods on their list of foods to avoid. One source suggested eating foods with Vitamin C, while another had Vitamin C foods on their list of foods to avoid. Lentils were treated in the same contradictory way by various experts.
So what's a body to do, especially if you don’t necessarily want to take meds? I would suggest that you use some common sense. We know that gout is caused by too much uric acid in your blood that collects as spiky crystals around your joints, especially the big toe.
-After consulting with your doctor to confirm the diagnosis, start paying attention to the amount and type of protein in your diet.
-Also, make sure you drink enough water to keep your kidneys functioning well.
-Slim down, if necessary, using a sensible eating plan.
-Get some real, unadulterated cherry juice and drink it every day while you are afflicted, and occasionally when you are not.
-Finally, skip processed foods and soft drinks that, at the very least, may promote the inflammation associated with gout, and in some studies have been shown to contribute to the build up of uric acid that causes gout.
If taking these steps doesn’t help, you may have to try something more drastic, but at least give it a try. In addition to relieving your gout, you may find that you feel better, in general, and who can argue with that!
It may take a while to heal.
Attacks of gout can last for days or weeks, if left untreated, and may recur, since there is no real cure.
If you think you have gout, you should consult a health care professional to get a diagnosis and treatment suggestions.
Although there is a hereditary component to gout, there are some things you can do to help yourself if you are prone to attacks of this painful disorder.
-Maintain a healthy weight, since obesity is correlated with high levels of uric acid in the blood. However, quick weight loss schemes may actually raise your level of uric acid, so choose a sensible plan to lose weight and stay healthy. Keeping your weight under control will reduce your risk of gout flare-ups, even if you have already been afflicted.
-Drink plenty of water to prevent the crystals from forming as well as helping your body wash out excess uric acid via the kidneys. Some health experts recommend that you drink 10-12 glasses of water if you have or are prone to gout.
-Cut back on alcohol consumption, particularly beer and hard liquor, since consuming these beverages is associated with an increased risk of gout, both by causing the formation of uric acid and preventing it from being excreted through the kidneys.
-Eat a healthy diet with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, with smaller amounts of lean proteins and healthy fats. Keep in mind that the most common foods associated with gout are meat and seafood, so use these foods sparingly.
-Be aware of the amount of protein in your diet as compared to the daily protein requirements for your age, gender and lifestyle.
-Drink pure cherry juice, or eat a 1/2 pound of cherries a day. This has long been considered a folk remedy for healing gout, and it really seems to work. At the very least, cherries are anti-inflammatory, and they seem to have a specific lowering effect on uric acid levels.
-Choose foods rich in Vitamin C, since studies have shown that this vitamin appears to lower blood levels of uric acid. It takes about 500 mg of Vitamin C each day to achieve this affect, and there is some controversy about taking this as a supplement, since excessive Vitamin C supplementation may contribute to the formation of kidney stones in those who are susceptible.
-Eat low-fat dairy products, such as yogurt or milk, which are good sources of protein, and, according to a study done in the last few years, do not appear to increase your risk of the uric acid build-up associated with gout.
Limit or avoid foods with refined carbs and added sugar, since a correlation has been shown between eating sugary foods, particularly soft drinks, and the incidence of gout.
-Skip greasy, fatty foods, which are hard on the liver and the digestive system, and will make it difficult to maintain a healthy weight.
Here is a list of foods that may help you if you are at risk or actually suffer from gout.
Health experts disagree
It is important to note that not all health experts seem to agree on which foods are okay for gout sufferers to eat and which are not, but most will tell you that a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables with a minimum of meat, seafood and processed foods will help, especially if you also be sure to drink plenty of water to help flush waste products from your system.
It makes sense that a healthy diet contributes to a healthy body. This is never truer than in the case of gout. Even if you have a hereditary predisposition, you don’t have to succumb to the debilitating pain of gout.
Lose weight. Watch your protein intake. Drink lots of water. Eat some cherries.
You can do it!
PAGE SUMMARY for What is Gout
-Gout is characterized by the painful swelling of joints, most commonly the big toe.
-It is caused by a build-up of a crystalline substance, called uric acid, a product of protein metabolism.
-Besides localized pain, a gout sufferer may experience chills and fever as the body tries to deal with the inflammation.
-Attacks of gout can last for days or weeks, if left untreated, and may recur, since there is no real cure.
-There are some things you can do including maintaining a healthy weight, drinking plenty of water, cutting back on alcohol consumption and eating a healthy diet, paying particular attention to the amount of protein.
-There is good evidence that drinking pure cherry juice and other Vitamin C foods will help.
-You should also eat low-fat dairy products,limit or avoid foods with refined carbs and added sugar, and skip greasy, fatty foods.
-Not all health experts agree on which foods are okay for gout sufferers to eat and which are not, but most will tell you that a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables with a minimum of meat, seafood and processed foods will help.
-If you think you have gout, you should consult a health care professional to get a diagnosis and treatment suggestions.