Inflammatory Arthritis -- Gout

October 04, 2012

Gout is an inflammatory arthritis that is triggered by crystallization of uric acid within the joints; it causes severe pain and swelling. This condition is linked to metabolic syndromes -- health issues that include obesity, insulin resistance and high blood pressure -- and may lead to heart attack, diabetes and a shortened life span. A recent study  Arthritis & Rheumatism found that the prevalence of gout in the U.S. has risen sharply over the last twenty years and affects four per cent or 8.3 million Americans. Researchers also found a rise in increased uric acid levels that now affect  43.3 million or 21 percent of Americans. Findings indicate that skyrocketing rates of obesity and hypertension are contributing factors. Gout attacks often come on suddenly causing a burning and painful sensation similar to arthritis. Although the majority of gout symptoms do not cause long-term damage, uric acid crystals may form in the soft tissue of organs, resulting in serious damage.  Maintaining low levels of uric acid in the body is necessary to prevent future outbreaks. You can help alleviate gout flare-ups through diet and attention to your overall health. It's important to maintain a healthy weight. Obese people have higher levels of uric acid in the blood, so staying within a healthy weight range helps protect against gout. It has been shown that a slight weight gain  of six to 10 pounds in early adulthood will increase the risk of developing gout. Four basic foods also help:
  • Vegetables are a rich source of antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients that combat debilitating joint inflammation. Vegetables that are particularly robust anti-inflammatories include include dark green leafy vegetables, carrots, yellow peppers, pumpkins and winter squash. Avoid foods with high purine content, they break down into uric acid during metabolism ... a few of these are asparagus, mushrooms, spinach and cauliflower. Your best bet in avoiding high-purine content veggies?  Choose vegetables that are yellow, red or orange.
  • Anti-inflammatory fruits can help fight gout and provide powerful phytochemicals and antioxidants that reduce degradation of collagen surrounding the joints. The pectin, lycopene, quercetin and limonene found in fruits like apples, lemons, berries and tomatoes help reduce inflammation by combating free radical damage. You can also fight gout with papayas, apricots and cantaloupe. And don't forget citrus fruits, which are packed with the antioxidant vitamin C!
  • Eggs are another low-purine food and are an excellent source for your protein needs a few times a week. Many meat and fish varieties are high in purines -- eggs are a healthy alternative in fighting symptoms of gout, but shouldn't be eaten in excess.
Finally, drink water! Water promotes the excretion of uric acid, and drinking water during a gout outbreak helps prevent uric acid crystals from forming in the kidneys and causing any long-term damage.

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