Nearly 4% of all adults in the United States have an excruciating form of arthritis known as gout. Gout usually affects your big toe’s biggest joint, but it can afflict any joint.
You developed gout because of a combination of genetics, age, and lifestyle choices, including dietary ones. Consuming foods and beverages that are high in a substance called purines, which are water-soluble compounds that produce uric acid, can lead to an imbalance and cause a buildup of painful uric acid crystals in your toe.
Though gout can’t be cured, it can be controlled by adopting new lifestyle habits. Kimberly Bolling, MD, is a caring and knowledgeable internist who diagnoses and treats gout in her Bowie, Maryland, office. She offers you five new habits that can help you stave off gout attacks, and get healthier overall, too.
1. Drink more coffee
Research demonstrates that women and men who drink coffee have a lower risk for gout than people who don’t drink coffee. Men who drank 4-5 cups of coffee a day had a risk that was 40% lower than that of men who didn’t drink coffee. Women who drank four or more cups a day had a 57% reduced risk.
Coffee, of course, may also have negative effects on your health, such as weakening your bones. Talk to Dr. Bolling to see if coffee is an appropriate choice for you. While there are compounds in coffee that can lower uric acid, simply drinking more healthy liquids helps with gout, too.
Keep your body hydrated so it can flush out excess uric acid and crystals. Drink plenty of plain water. Avoid fruit juices and any beverage, such as soda, that has added sugar. All forms of sugar are bad for gout.
2. Eat more cherries
Cherries and tart cherry juice are just some of the delicious foods and beverages you can eat to reduce your risk of flares. Cherries contain compounds called anthocyanins, which have antioxidant and antiinflammatory properties. Tart cherry juice also reduces the levels of uric acid in your body. Other delicious anti-gout foods include:
- Plain yogurt
- Leafy greens (i.e.,salad greens)
- Purple vegetables
- Whole grains
- Sweet potatoes
- Peanut butter
- Most nuts
- Brussel sprouts
Fruits and vegetables have the added bonus of a high water content that helps keep your uric acid levels low. Citrus fruit, pineapples, and strawberries are high in Vitamin C, which also controls uric acid.
3. Run from purines
While you're filling your plate with healthy, gout-friendly foods, avoid foods and drinks that are high in purines. Eliminate:
- Alcohol, especially beer
- High fructose corn syrup
- Organ meats
- Fatty fish
Limit to 6 oz. a day:
If you’re not sure what to eat, what to avoid, and what amounts are safe, talk with us about a custom diet.
4. Run, in general
Exercise is more important than ever if you have gout. Exercise helps your body detoxify and keeps your joints strong. Be sure to stay well hydrated, though. Drink extra water when you work out or sweat.
While you don't actually have to run, be sure to choose a variety of activities that get your heart pumping, your joints moving, and your muscles working. We’ll help you start where you are and then gradually add in more challenging activities so that your body stays strong and gout-free.
5. Wear toe-friendly shoes
Shoes that squeeze can limit circulation to your joints and stress your toes, too. Avoid heels and shoes with narrow toe boxes. Look for well-constructed, fashionable flat shoes that offer arch support and plenty of room for your toes.
You don’t have to change all your habits all at once or by yourself. Our team helps you make the step-by-step transition to your new healthy lifestyle. To get help with the pain from a current gout attack, or to prevent a new one, call us today at 301-352-0090 at our Bowie, Maryland, office. You can also request an appointment online.