This informative post was written by Goji Man (a.k.a. Simon Hammett), who is from the UK and is currently studying a Masters in Food, Nutrition & Health. He runs a blog called gojimannutrition.com which focuses on plant based nutrition and health which I encourage you to check out! You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
Gout is a type of arthritis. The cause of gout is a build-up of uric acid in the body which causes uric acid crystals to form in and around joints. This results in a sudden attack of excruciating pain and inflammation in one or more joints.
If you are unfortunate enough to suffer from an attack of gout your doctor will usually prescribe Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAID’s) or other medications that will help reduce urate levels.
But if you are not keen on taking medications because of their associated side effect risks (or can’t due to other medical conditions) then please see my below recommendations which are very effective measures for preventing and reversing gout attacks.
It’s All About The P’s: Purines And Proteins
Some foods contain high amounts of the naturally occurring substance purines. Purines are then converted in the body to uric acid. Purines are actually healthy and essential in the body (especially for DNA and DNA replication: Two of the five bases in nucleic acids, adenine and guanine, are actually purines).
Problems begin to arise when we consume high protein diets. Foods that contain high levels of purines include: organ meat, red meat, salmon, herring, sardines and other oily fish. It is possible to run into problems from plant based protein sources such as beans, lentils and peas, although it is uncommon to see gout in those on plant based diets.
If you are currently experiencing an episode of gout, then I strongly recommend limiting (or ideally avoiding) these protein sources until the condition has resolved.
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Your risk of developing gout is also greatly increased with the amount of alcohol you consume. Red wine and port have been heavily linked to gout for many years. But in a 2004 study published in the Lancet, researchers discovered that beer increased the risk of gout substantially more than other types of alcohol. More than 50,000 men were analysed as part of the study. (1)
If you are going to consume these types of alcohols then it is strongly recommended that you drink moderately and that you also drink plenty of water to help remove excess uric acid from the body.
We all know the dangers of adding fructose to drinks and foods. They have been well documented. Obesity, heart disease, diabetes. You name it fructose has a link to it. But what about fructose and its link to gout?
The body is unable to directly use fructose and has to convert it into glucose before using it as a fuel source. The conversion process creates a potential problem in that uric acid is created as a by-product (which then promotes gout)(2). This then creates a further problem in that high uric acid levels hinders the production of nitric oxide, a chemical that helps keep blood pressure low in the body. A further potential problem for people who drink and eat higher amounts of fructose is that a lot of fructose is actually turned into LDL, making LDL cholesterol, which is then stored in the body as fat.
The dangers of fructose shouldn’t be associated or confused with fructose in fruit. The fibre in fruit actually slows the absorption so never creates a problem in the body. But as always, man in his stupidity, has learnt how to isolate and extract only the fructose and add it to food or drinks to make them more addictive.
So this is all the theory behind fructose causing gout and other health dangers in the body, but where is the evidence I hear you say? Well three recent leading studies have proven cause and effect. The first was a study (published in the Journal of Paediatrics) of 5,000 teenagers, which showed that the more juice and fizzy drinks they consumed, the higher their blood pressure and uric acid levels were (3).
The second study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) looked at the frequency of gout in over 46,000 men over 12 years. 755 men experienced gout during this period. Again, the study showed the more fizzy drinks were consumed the higher the risk of gout. In fact the risk was double for those who drank two or more fizzy drinks a day (4).
The third study looked at nearly 80,000 women over a 22 year period. During the study 778 women developed gout and once again a clear link was shown between intake and risk. Women who drank one sugary beverage a day were 74% more likely to develop gout compared to those who consumed less than one drink a month. Those who drank two or more servings a day, had a two and a half times higher risk of developing gout.
Food & Drink For Preventing & Reversing Gout
- Try and incorporate both cherries and pineapple into your diet every day (even if you are not currently suffering with gout). These are among the most effective foods for helping excrete excess uric acid out of the body. Low sugar cherry juice is also effective.
- Not a big fan of cherries? No problem. Blueberries, bilberries and blackberries are also effective at reducing uric acid levels. This is because of their high bioflavonoid content.
- Prunes. You might think it is a bit counter intuitive as prunes are acid forming in the body, but they actually help metabolise uric acid out of the body.
- Common sense really but ensure you are eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. Sweet potatoes, quinoa, celery, brown rice and amaranth are all excellent choices.
- Try a morning smoothie that contains pineapple, cherries, pear, apple and banana. You can also add a teaspoon of chlorella and a small piece of ginger which will further aid in alkalising the body. Add some unsweetened almond milk, blend and drink straight away.
- Drink at least two litres of water a day as this will help with uric acid excretion.
Food To Avoid
- If you have gout then avoid meat, beer and cheese. These are among the worst triggers for gout attacks. If you are simply keen on avoiding gout attacks then I recommend substantially reducing your intakes.
- Avoid high purine and high protein foods: oily fish, shellfish, chicken, lobster, crab, scallops and mussels. Plant based sources to limit include: lentils, porridge and kidney beans. Also avoid yeast-based drinks such as Bovril, as these have been shown to increase uric acid levels. Once you have got over the gout attack then simply eat and drink these in moderation.
- If you are prone to gout attacks then drastically cut down on full fat cheeses such as Brie and Stilton
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