How Can I Prevent Gout?

Q: What do you not want to have in common with past and present luminaries such as Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Sir Alec Guinness, and Luciano Pavarotti? 

A:  A painful form of arthritis known as gout.

Gout is a type of arthritis that tends to affect the big toe in one foot, although you could also feel pain in your heel or elsewhere, including your hands. The pain comes from a collection of needle-sharp uric acid crystals in your joints. The crystals form when you have too much uric acid circulating in your bloodstream, because of the types of food you eat.

The only good thing regarding gout is that you can prevent it by adopting a healthier diet and lifestyle. From that good thing will come more positives, because you’re also then preventing a range of other potentially debilitating conditions, too, including heart disease.

Kimberly Bolling, MD, an experienced and skilled internist in Bowie, Maryland, takes gout seriously. Though obese men are most susceptible to gout, it’s on the rise among women, too — especially postmenopausal women — and tends to afflict African-Americans. Whether your big toe is pain-free or you’ve already had a bout of gout, make the following changes to your diet and routine so you can prevent or reduce the severity of a gout attack.

Drink water

Start your day with an 8-ounce glass (1 cup) of plain water, or flavor it with fresh lemon juice, cucumbers, or strawberries, without any added sweeteners. Be sure to drink another 7 to 11 8-ounce glasses of water throughout the day to help flush excess uric acid from your kidneys so they stay healthy. 

If you work out, do manual labor for a living, or use a sauna or spa that makes you sweat, drink more than the recommended  8-12 cups. Staying hydrated is important for all aspects of your health, but it’s especially important if you want to prevent gout.

Avoid concentrated purines

Purines are compounds that cause a surge of uric acid in your bloodstream. If you have gout, or you’re at risk for gout, and want to prevent it, stay away from:

Beer doesn’t just raise uric acid, it also contains yeast, which is high in purines.

Limit high-purine foods

Many other foods that would otherwise be considered healthy aren’t good choices if you have or are trying to prevent gout. Even though you don’t have to cut them out of your diet altogether, limit:

Limiting alcohol is important because alcohol raises the amount of uric acid in your blood.

Go low-purine

When you start to add more fresh foods into your diet to replace processed foods, think green. Most vegetables (other than those listed above) are good at preventing gout and supply your body with nutrients and hydration. Low-purine foods include: 

Drinking 1-3 cups of coffee a day can even reduce your risk for gout. However, caffeine can also rob your bones of calcium, so ask Dr. Bolling about taking a calcium supplement if you drink coffee. Fresh cherries and a vitamin C supplement can reduce your gout risk

Get moving

You need to keep your foot elevated and still if you’re having a gout attack, but as soon as you’re back to normal, get back on your feet! Exercise helps your body remove excess uric acid. Moving your joints also produces synovial fluid, a lubricant that reduces friction and alleviates pain.

Dr. Bolling can recommend different types of physical activities, based on your level of fitness and the things you like to do. Even your favorite hobby — like gardening, mowing the lawn with a non-motor push mower, or dancing — can be part of your new activity routine.

Lose weight

Once you adopt healthier eating and drinking habits and increase your level of activity, you might find yourself shedding pounds without even thinking about it. However, if you’re having trouble reaching a healthy weight, contact Dr. Bolling. 

Obesity is one of the main risk factors for developing gout and many other painful or potentially fatal conditions, including heart attack and stroke. Dr. Bolling custom-designs an advanced weight loss program that helps you burn fat quickly, but healthily and sustainably. 

Make the changes you need to prevent gout by contacting our team for assistance with weight loss and lifestyle adjustments. If you have gout, or think you might, call our Bowie, Maryland, office at 301-352-0090 or send us a message here on our website.

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