When the body produces too much uric acid and fails to effectively secrete the excess, crystals can begin to build up in the joints, causing the painful arthritic condition of gout. This disease causes thousands of sufferers a year constant pain and difficult mobility. While there are many medicines that can be prescribed to relieve symptoms, there are also many natural solutions that can help treat and prevent acute attacks as well as chronic inflammation.
What Causes Gout?
The actual cause of this condition is difficult to pinpoint, but there are some clues to the puzzle. Family history is one of the biggest factors, but even those who have no record of it in there heredity may be at risk. There are several things that can cause the body to become overloaded with uric acid. Foods that contain purines cause your body to produce uric acid during the digestion process. These foods include:
Consuming too many of these foods can cause the body to produce an excessive amount of acid and struggle to excrete it. In the past, only wealthy people could afford these foods, causing gout to be dubbed “the disease of kings.” Now it is much more common throughout all income levels within a population, especially since sugary foods are often inexpensive. The history of the disease leads scientists to believe that diet is a stronger risk for gout than heredity or other predecessors.
What Are the Symptoms?
You may already be familiar with the symptoms of this disease, but many people aren’t aware of the difference between gout and arthritis. Here are some of the more common symptoms to help you determine whether or not you have gout.
Swollen and stiff joints that can become hot and turn a shiny purple or red color.
A medium to high fever
Pain that often starts in the base of the big toe and can spread to other places, such as wrists, knees, fingers or any other joint. Unlike all-over aching, gout can produce extreme pain in a single, isolate joint.
These symptoms often happen in episodic frequency, leaving many to write them off as something strange that happened, only to have them return again in as few as 5 days or as long as a few weeks. Attacks may increase with severity over time and can eventually form lumps under the skin of the knee, feet, hands, outer ear or elbow. Advanced stages of the disease can lead to loss of function as the joints begin to erode. Elevated risk for heart failure and stroke are common among long-time sufferers of the disease.
How to Treat Gout
While anti-inflammatory medicines may help relieve swelling and pain during an acute attack, frequent use can have negative side effects. There are alternative ways to control gout and prevent future attacks. Fish oil is a natural form of inflammation control and provides omega-3s for overall health, as well as targeted control for swelling. The two fatty acids, known as EPA and DHA, decreases production for inflammatory hormones called prostaglandins. Over time, this can drastically reduce the effectiveness of inflammatory hormones. It’s important to note that eating seafood is not the same as taking fish oil as you would have to eat a very large amount of fish to equal the omega-3 found in supplements. There are a few other vitamins and minerals that can help relieve pain for gout sufferers.
Vitamin C has been studied and is consistently associated with a lower risk of gout.
Acidophilus can improve gastrointestinal health and aid in proper digestion.
Inositol hexophosphonate can also aid in controlling gout.
Cherries have long been a treatment for gout because of their rich antioxidants. Gout attacks have been shown to decrease in studies after participants ate cherries or drank cherry juice.
High-fiber diets have been shown to reduce risk of hyperuricemia, especially with soluble fiber. Hypertension and cholesterol rates were also shown to be reduced.
While each of these methods have been shown to reduce specific aspects of the overall disease, studies have shown that a diet with a combination of anti-inflammatories, like curcumin, in addition to omega-3 fatty acids and resveratrol were the most effective in reducing any crystal-induced inflammation. There seems to be a link between antioxidants, fish oil and gout that is beneficial to sufferers when a diet that is complete in all types of beneficial vitamins, nutrients and minerals is consumed.
There are also several herbs that can be taken to help control inflammation and reduce risk of flares. Turmeric, Devil’s claw, cat’s claw and bromelain are effective anti-inflammatories, while cranberry can improve kidney health, allowing the body to excrete a sufficient amount of uric acid. In addition to taking herbs and supplements, many doctors recommend losing weight and exercising daily to reduce weight and uric acid levels at the same time.
By implementing a careful diet and feeding your body the proper nutrition, you can avoid problems with gout and control current attacks. Using the right vitamins and minerals, you can learn which foods fight inflammation and help to relieve the pain of this dreaded arthritic disease.
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