Now that the holiday feasts are over and the New Year is here, it’s a good time to take stock of your diet and consider healthy changes – especially if you have gout.
Gout is a common form of inflammatory arthritis that can unleash intensely painful flares in individual joints, often in the big toe. An estimated 8 million Americans experience gout attacks, which can last for a few days. The condition can also become chronic and lead to the destruction of joints. Although there’s no cure, there are medications to control gout, as well as lifestyle changes you can make to manage the condition – and reduce or even eliminate attacks.
Gout develops in some people who have high levels of uric acid in the blood; the uric acid can form needle-like crystals in soft tissues and joints. Uric acid is produced when the body breaks down chemicals called purines. Purines occur naturally in your body but are also found in certain foods and beverages. If your body can’t get rid of the uric acid efficiently enough (it’s cleaned out of the blood by your kidneys and eliminated in urine), the uric acid in your blood can build up and reach levels that could cause problems (above 6mg/dl).
One way to minimize the risk of a gout flare is to cut back on high-purine foods. The DASH diet – a low-sodium diet that emphasizes fruits and vegetables over red meats and processed foods – is recommended for people with gout. The Mediterranean diet – which emphasizes fruits, veggies, whole grains and healthy fats – may also help. Find more gout info here.
For specific foods and beverages, keep the following tips in mind:
Worst Foods & Beverages for Gout
- At the top of the list of what to avoid is booze. Beer and liquor readily convert to uric acid and they slow down its elimination. Studies have shown mixed results about whether wine is OK in moderation.
- Drinking sugary beverages, such as sodas sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, fruit juices or other sugar-containing drinks, is associated with gout. Notable exception: cherries, especially tart cherries, may be beneficial for gout.
- Go light on red meats, particularly organ meats like liver, tongue and sweetbreads, which are all high in purines. Also avoid or minimize the amount of bacon, venison and veal you eat.
- Maybe surprising: Turkey and goose are very high in purines. Chicken and duck are better bets.
- Some seafoods also are high in purines, including anchovies, sardines, mussels, scallops, crabs, lobsters, oysters and shrimp.
- Some vegetables are on the watch list, too: Consider cutting back on mushrooms, asparagus and spinach – but veggies of any kind are much less likely to trigger a gout flare than alcohol or organ meats.
- Learn more about foods to accept or reject here.
There are also many things you can add to your diet to help avoid or manage gout. Drink plenty of water, milk and tart cherry juice. Drinking coffee seems to help as well. Be sure to talk with your doctor before making any dietary changes.
Get your New Year off to a great start, whether it’s changing your diet, getting in a more positive frame of mind, or embracing a feel-good hobby. Live your best life in 2020! Join the Live Yes! Arthritis Network FOR FREE. Our community is here to help you.
The holidays are a great time to catch up with friends and spend quality time with family. From parties to special dinners to festive family traditions, this time of year is full of joy and excitement. But if the most important people in your life don’t live nearby, you’ll probably be traveling – and when you live with arthritis, that can often mean pain. Continue reading Holiday Travel Can Be a Pain
Pearls of wisdom, encouragement, perspective, no-nonsense tough love. Sometimes when living with a chronic disease like arthritis and searching for a treatment that works, you need some advice. It may come from a dear friend or even a stranger, but many times your arthritis doctor tells you what you need to hear. We asked our readers and followers, “What is the best advice your rheumatologist or arthritis doctor gave you?”
Continue reading You Said It: Best Advice From Your Doctor
Fall is a beautiful time of year – but along with changing leaves and cooler temps can come painful arthritis flares and inflamed joints. Changes in weather are often a source of discomfort for people with arthritis. Thankfully, there are ways you can lessen the impact cooler temps have on your joints, including making a pain plan that works for you.
Continue reading Falling Leaves and Aching Joints: Combat the Pain Caused by Cooler Temps
Arthritis Today readers answer the question: What should you be doing for your arthritis?
» Exercise, definitely. But I am so tired all the time. I feel better when I get going, but making myself go for a walk is hard! —Pauline Turner
Continue reading Reader Insights: What I Should Be Doing for My Arthritis?
Cheryl Koehn, 56, was surprised that information about how menopause might impact her rheumatoid arthritis (RA) – and vice versa – was so hard to find. “So many of us go through these profound life experiences in units of one,” says Koehn, who co-authored the book Rheumatoid Arthritis: Plan To Win (2002, Oxford University Press). In fact, living with inflammatory arthritis can affect how women experience menopause and their health risks.
Continue reading The Menopause-Arthritis Connection
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When arthritis affects the foot it usually hits at the base of the big toe in what is known as the MTP, or metatarsophalangeal joint. This can cause big problems for the tiny joint that has to bend and bear about 50% of your body weight every time you take a step.
Here are six common culprits of big toe joint pain—many of which are related—and ways you can find relief.
Continue reading What’s Aching Your Big Toe?
While living with arthritis can create stresses most people might not even think about, a technique called expressive writing may bring relief, both mentally and physically. For example, maybe you’re angry because pain is keeping you from joining friends on a shopping trip or playing with your kids – again. You may be stuck in anger.
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Writing this way reduces inner conflict and provides you a better sense of emotional balance – and perhaps even less pain – when you express those feelings on paper.”
Continue reading Relieve Arthritis Stress With Expressive Writing
Aromatherapy won’t cure your arthritis, but it may ease certain symptoms and help you feel better. For example, lavender is sometimes used to relieve anxiety and promote sleep. Some research shows aromatherapy may even have benefits for pain. Two small studies found aromatherapy massage with lavender or ginger and orange oils led to short-term relief of knee pain.
“It doesn’t work for everyone, but some have good outcomes,” says Sue Cutshall, a Mayo Clinic integrative health clinical nurse specialist. However, as with other “natural” treatments, you should exercise caution when using them; in rare cases, they can be hazardous.
Essential oils are the foundation of aromatherapy. The oils – extracted from plants, flowers, herbs and trees – are most often used for their scent, but they can also be mixed with lotions or alcohol and used as bath or massage products.
Most essential oils have few side effects or risks when used as directed, but some can cause harm. Undiluted essential oils can provoke skin problems, and citrus essential oils can increase sun sensitivity.
Continue reading Essential Oils: What You Should Know
You’re feeling sick but your doctor is booked and the nearest urgent care center is 45 minutes away. There’s always the hospital emergency room, but your symptoms aren’t that bad. Should you just tough it out?
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Continue reading Know When to Go to the Emergency Room