Gout is an extremely painful form of arthritis that tends to locate first or primarily in your big toe, but it can affect any of your joints. You get gout when you eat foods that are high in purines, an organic compound. Purines are found in red meat, shellfish, alcohol, and other food items that some might consider luxuries — which is why gout was once stereotypically considered a “disease of kings.”
When your body processes purines, it breaks them down into uric acid. When you have too much uric acid in your system, it collects in your joint and forms sharp (and painful) uric crystals. So, when you complain that you feel like you’re being “stabbed with needles,” you’re not far from the truth.
Dr. Kimberly Bolling, an expert clinician with a self-named practice in Bowie, Maryland, knows that you don’t have to be rich to have gout. But you do have to be richly aware of what you’re eating and drinking if you want to avoid a painful flare. Here are some tips:
If your loaded-up plate tends to look a little beige because it’s heavy on meat and potatoes, try the MyPlate approach to add more color to your life. Fill your plate halfway up with a salad and colorful veggies, and a touch of low-glycemic fruits; fill another quarter with grains; and just one-quarter with a healthy protein weighing about 0.25 ounces.
Fresh vegetables are best, but frozen veggies and fruits (without sugar) are picked at their peak of freshness so they’re good, too. Shop the outside aisles of your grocery store, heading first for the produce section, because those are the kinds of foods that keep your body fueled with nutrients.
Try a selection of old favorites and new vegetables, such as:
Eating more vegetables won’t just cut down on your gout flares. A plant-rich diet is good for your heart, your weight, and your blood sugar, too. Avoid processed foods and anything with high-fructose corn syrup or trans fats.
When you add more vegetables and grains to your plate, you’ll have less room for protein, and that’s a good thing. When choosing your protein, limit high-purine foods, such as:
Aim for whiter meats, when possible, or small portions of red meats (but only rarely). Expand your palate with vegetable proteins, such as tofu and beans. If you’re not sure how to change your diet, talk to Dr. Bolling about medically supervised diets for gout and/or weight loss.
When you sidle up to the bar, don’t order a beer, wine, or any other form of alcohol: Your body produces uric acid when it breaks down alcohol. The aforementioned high-fructose corn syrup is also found in sodas and other sweet beverages, so stay away!.
What can you drink? Water’s always a great choice! Liven it up by infusing it with fresh citrus (lemons, limes), berries, or cucumbers. Also, coffee doesn’t just stimulate your brain in the morning; drinking about 4-5 cups per day lowers your risk for a gout flare.
Unhealthy, packaged cookies may be easy to drop in your purse for a snack, but so are oranges. Cookies are a no-no, oranges and other citrus fruits are good to go. Citrus fruits and other low-glycemic fruits, such as pineapples and strawberries, add to your vitamin C levels and won’t trigger a flare.
Trade in your high-heeled slingbacks for a stylish pair of shoes that doesn’t put pressure on your big toe. Flats with arch supports are best. Be sure the toe box is roomy, too, to keep your toes stress-free.
Foods and lifestyle choices that are unfriendly to gout are friendly for your body. Follow Dr. Bolling’s guidelines, and you could feel better, look better, and shed the extra pounds that put painful pressure on your toe.
If you’re ready to learn more about how to avoid gout flares and live comfortably and healthily, call us today, or use our online contact form.