Gout affects about two per cent of both men over age 30 and women over 50 years old in Canada. In this blog, I outline what gout is, causes and how to treat it naturally with dietary changes and supplementation.
What is Gout?
Gout is a kind of arthritis that is characterised by sudden, sharp attacks of joint pain with redness, heat, and swelling in the afflicted area. It usually affects one joint.
It most frequently affects the joint of the big toe, where it’s also known as podagra, but other toes, as well as knees, can also be affected.
Gout is caused by a build-up of uric acid crystals in the joints. Uric acid is produced by the body when breaking down proteins known as purines.
Uric acid normally remains dissolved in the blood and leaves the body via the kidneys and urine.
An excess of uric acid in the blood is caused by an overabundance of purines. The kidneys can only excrete so much uric acid at one time and so the remaining uric acid forms crystals that get deposited in the joints and cause painful inflammation.
Purines are proteins found in almost every cell in the body and most foods. Some foods have higher concentrations of purines, including organ meats like kidneys, fish like mackerel, herring, sardines, and mussels, and also yeast.
Uric acid – not all bad
Though an overload of uric acid can lead to gout, recent research has shown that, in proper proportions, uric acid acts as an antioxidant and helps protect the body from free radical damage.
Just like with cholesterol, there is a balance to be kept.
How to help?
While an excess of purines is the primary reason for gout, it is important to remember that the food is not at fault here but rather reduced uric acid metabolism. Just avoiding high purine foods is not enough to resolve the problem.
1. Control Your Blood Sugar
Recent research has shown that poor blood sugar and insulin control through excess consumption of carbohydrates and sugars leads to gout, and not the level of purines.
2. Manage Your Stress
Stressors, both physical and emotional, can cause the body to excrete excess uric acid.
3. Keep Hydrated
When asked what the most important factor for treating gout was, gout expert Bert Middleton, from thegoutkiller.com, said that if he had to pick one determinant, it was dehydration.
4. Check Your Medication
Some drugs that people take for other medical conditions, such as high blood pressure or heart failure, may cause gout. Such drugs include diuretics, beta-blockers, cyclosporine and low-dose aspirin.
5. Try Nutmeg Oil
If you are suffering from an acute attack then applying nutmeg oil to the affected area can be helpful. Nutmeg oil, which is antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial is traditionally being used for gout in Asian medicine.
Just like any other inflammatory condition, the way to help gout is no different. Below is a list of steps for you to consider.
- Reduce or better eliminate gluten, dairy and sugar from your diet.
- Reduce high purine foods – see above.
- Manage your stress levels both physical and emotional.
- Drink more water!
This article in not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Now I’d like to hear from you. Do you suffer from gout? Have you tried any of the above recommendations in the past? Did they help? Do you have any other suggestions that have worked well for you? Let us know in the comments below.