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       Volume I - December 20, 2008

What’s Gout All About?
by Alice Osborne

We’ve been getting the same question from readers over the past few months and thought this holiday dining season might be a good time to answer it: What is GOUT, how do you get it, and are there any natural preventatives and cures available?

Here’s what we found from the Care2 website: Gout is a type of arthritis (joint inflammation) caused when crystals of uric acid which are deposited in the joints and surrounding tissues. Considered one of the most painful of the rheumatic conditions, gout afflicts an estimated 840 out of 100,000 people, accounting for about 5 percent of all cases of arthritis. And the research shows it likes to make an appearance around the holidays. Usually, gout affects the joints in the big toe initially. It also can affect the:

  • instep
  • ankles
  • heels
  • knees
  • wrists
  • fingers
  • elbows

    The definitive diagnosis for gout depends on finding uric acid crystals in the joint fluid during an acute gout attack. There is a genetic predisposition to the condition, but it’s often environmental and lifestyle factors that contribute to an exacerbation—diet being big part of this, particularly diets rich in purines. Gouty “attacks” can be caused by diets heavy in proteins, fats, alcohols and high-fructose corn syrups (which explains why it often shows up around the holidays), so the best preventative is to limit your intake.

  • According to the American Medical Association, purine-containing foods include beer, other alcoholic beverages, anchovies, sardines in oil, fish roes, herring, yeast, organ meat (liver, kidneys, sweetbreads), legumes (dried beans, peas), meat extracts, consomme, gravies, mushrooms, spinach, asparagus, cauliflower.

    Here’s the perfect case for “moderation in all things”. We know there are humungous benefits to including especially spinach, asparagus and cauliflower in our diets. But now we know too much of even a good thing isn’t good.

    Celery, tart cherries, dairy products, flaxseed and olive oil, nuts, and tofu have been shown to reduce the occurrence and even help prevent the onset of gout. According to the American Medical Association, a balanced diet for people with gout include foods:

  • High in complex carbohydrates (whole grains, fruits, vegetables)
  • Low in protein (15% of calories and sources should be soy, lean meats, poultry)
  • No more than 30% of calories from fat (10% animal fat)

    So bottom line? Gout is about eating too much rich foods—especially proteins. So as we continue our holiday dining, let’s just do so in moderation with an eye especially focused on the healthy selections at the buffet table—no worries with that approach!

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