A gout attack can hit suddenly, in the middle of the night. You may wonder: Why does my blanket suddenly feel as heavy as lead on my toe?
Gout is a form of arthritis caused by too much uric acid in your system. Uric acid is made as your body breaks down certain food and drink.
Too much uric acid results in crystals (think sandpaper) that get inside the tissues of your joints. Sandpaper on sensitive joint tissue? The pain can be unthinkably horrible.
Whether a gout attack comes in the hands or the feet, often it is accompanied by grotesque swelling and deformity of the joint. Walking or using your hands can be impossible, and people often become bedridden and unable to work.
When a gout attack is left untreated, those uric acid crystals eat away at and destroy your joints.
For centuries, gout was called “Rich Man’s Disease” because it became associated with expensive tastes: rich red meat and alcohol (beer, in particular).
Natural Remedies for Gout
Less than 4% of adults in the United States suffer from gout. But for those who do, the pain is excruciating. Here are four things you can do to help prevent gout and lessen attacks if you are one of the unfortunate Americans prone to them.
- Eat cherries and drink cherry juice. A 2012 study conducted by Boston University published in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatology showed that cherry juice reduced the risk of a gout attack by about 35%. The study followed more than 600 gout sufferers who had been recruited online.
- Try adapting a gout-resistant diet. That means eating whole grains, fruits, and vegetables packed with complex carbohydrates. Even vegetables packed with purine, such as mushrooms and asparagus, are safe for people with gout to eat.
- Steer clear of fatty meats loaded with saturated fats. This includes fatty poultry, too, such as chicken with the skin on. High-fat dairy products, such as sour cream and specialty cheeses, should also be avoided. Instead, eat lean cuts of meat and low-fat dairy products.
- Exercise to maintain weight control for gout prevention. The more you weigh, the more pressure on aching joints. For people with gout who are overweight, an attack can mean lying in bed for days. But here’s something you may not know: if you lose weight very quickly, this can send uric acid levels through the roof and actually cause a gout attack.
- Don’t drink alcohol at all if you are prone to frequent gout attacks. This is a best practice for gout prevention. If you must drink, keep it to as little as possible. For those who say “I only drink beer”—beer, in fact, is the alcoholic beverage most likely to induce a gout attack, according to Mayo Clinic.
- Stay hydrated. This is a must for gout prevention. But, stay away from sugary drinks. Soda is a no-no; diet, too. And those sugary fruit drinks may say “healthy” on the label, but, look again. Most likely, they are packed with refined sugars, which is the worst thing anyone with gout (or any form of arthritis, for that matter) needs to drink.