...this was the way Hippocrates described gout back in 450 BC.
Gout is a common form of inflammatory arthritis caused by elevated uric acid levels in the bloodstream and tissues. Our kidneys normally filter out excess uric acid but there is a limit to how much the kidneys can handle. It’s this excess uric acid that leads to hyperuricaemia which means elevated levels of uric acid in the blood which crystallize and which are deposited in joints, tendons, and surrounding tissues. This is what causes the pain and inflammation. Crystals precipitating in the kidneys, can result in stone formation and subsequent urate nephropathy.
The symptoms of gout are –
- Severe pain
- Redness and swelling particularly in the big toe. Over 50% of cases
- Very painful and tender joints especially the instep, ankles, knees, fingers and elbows
- Affected joints feel like they are on fire
Gout attacks usually tend to come on suddenly at night and just get worse for the next eight to twelve hours. They can last for up to two weeks. Gout is more common in middle-aged and elderly men, but women don’t miss out. For women, gout normally occurs after menopause.
The reason gout is commonly called a rich man’s disease is because it is linked to lifestyle and excesses of “rich foods”. Common causes of gout can be -
- Purine rich foods, including:-
- Red meat, game meats, seafood (especially shellfish, sardines & tuna) this includes fish sauces, yeast extracts (vegemite/marmite), alcohol, certain vegetables such as asparagus, spinach, cauliflower and mushrooms.
- 20% of sufferers of gout report that tomatoes are a trigger. Recent studies out of the University of Otago in NZ have shown that consuming tomatoes increases uric acid levels
- Medical such as obesity, any medical conditions that increases uric acid levels (diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease and hypertension)
- Some medications such as antihypertensives, low dose aspirin, cyclosporin and antirejection medications
- Recent surgery or trauma can elevate uric acid levels in the blood
Other factors include being a male over 40 years of age and a family history of gout.
If gout is left untreated attacks can occur more frequently and the person runs the risk of joint damage because of bone erosion, kidney stones and symptoms that resemble rheumatoid arthritis.
Prevention is one of the best treatments when it comes to gout. The best prevention is a change in diet and the use of nutritional supplements.
- Eliminate alcohol
- Eliminate high purine foods
- Limit foods with a moderate level of purines
- Consume a high-fibre diet
- Limit the consumption of refined carbohydrates – this includes sugar!
- Don’t over consume protein
- Increase omega-3 essential fatty acids. Flaxseed oil is the richest vegetable source of omega-3
- Drink plenty of water. At least 2L per day. This keeps your urine diluted and promotes the excretion of uric acid.
Nutritional supplements can also prevent gout
- EPA – an omega-3 oil
- Vitamin E
- Folic Acid
- Alanine, aspartic acid, glutamic acid, glycerine
- Vitamin C
Foods that are high in anthocyanidins and proanthocyanidins have also shown to help treat gout. These foods are usually purple to blue in colour and include foods such as cherries, blueberries, bilberry, hawthorn berries and grape seed. Two products a number of our customers have had success with is Cherry Juice concentrate from Nature’s Goodness, and Tart Cherry Juice concentrate from Dr Superfoods. These are high source of anthocyanidins.
We stock supplement formulations to assist with gout. These include Blooms Gout Relief, Herbs of Gold Gout Relief (on special this month!) and Nature’s Sunshine Gout Fighter Plus.
As always, if you have any questions about Gout and need assistance finding the right product for you, talk to one of our friendly staff in store.