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More than eight million people in the United States struggle with gout — an inflammatory form of arthritis — with men outpacing women three to one. The prevalence of gout has been on the rise in recent decades and many medical experts point toward the rising incidence of obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes as likely contributors.
At Neuhaus Foot and Ankle, our experienced team of podiatrists believes that one of the most important keys to preventing gout is education — namely nutritional counseling. Our team routinely helps patients manage this painful condition. Here’s what we recommend when it comes to diet.
Gout is an inflammatory and chronic form of arthritis that tends to affect the large joint in your big toe, though it can affect other joints, especially as the disease progresses. The primary driver of gout is an excess of uric acid in your body, which leads to the creation of sharp, crystal-like structures in your joint that cause considerable pain.
Gout typically presents itself as flare-ups, which usually come on suddenly and last for several days to several weeks. With each flare-up, your joints can gradually sustain irreparable damage, which is why preventing a flare-up in the first place is essential. And one of the best ways to do this is through your diet.
To better understand how gout is tied to your diet, let’s take a closer look at the precipitating cause of a flare-up — uric acid. Your body naturally produces this substance to break down purines, which are found in your body, as well as in many of the foods we eat.
Under normal circumstances, once the uric acid has completed its task, it dissolves in your blood, and then your kidneys expel what’s left through your urine. Gout can occur if your body produces too much uric acid or your kidneys fail to expel the acid properly, leaving it to build up in your joints.
So, getting back to the role of uric acid — breaking down purines — it makes sense to reduce the amount of purines you have in your system as the first line of defense against gout.
The primary culprits when it comes to purine-rich foods include:
Another culprit is sugary drinks that contain high levels of glucose. Medical researchers believe that glucose raises uric levels in your body, so you’d do well to steer clear of sweetened beverages altogether if you struggle with gout.
If you have gout, we recommend that you fill up on healthy fruits and vegetables, which contain low levels of purines and high levels of valuable vitamins and nutrients. Cherries, in particular, can work to actively lower the levels of uric acid in your body and reduce inflammation.
For the most part, dairy products, whole grains, and eggs are also gout-safe foods.
The bottom line is that your diet can play a significant role when it comes to gout and making a few nutritional tweaks can go a long way toward avoiding an attack.
If you’d like to learn more about managing gout through your diet, please contact one of our locations in Hermitage, Brentwood, Nashville, Mount Juliet, Gallatin, Waverly, Smyrna, Murfreesboro, or Lebanon, Tennessee.
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