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Archive for October 15th, 2012

If someone steps on your toe, the pain is minor compared to what gout sufferers experience. This arthritic condition affects as many as 8.3 million adults in the United States.

Excessive uric acid levels in the blood cause gout. Uric acid performs vital functions in the body (essential for genetic codes and energy metabolism and beneficial as an antioxidant), but excessive amounts cause severe pain. Uric acid crystals form in joints with about 90 percent occurring in the joint at the base of the big toe.

Several factors may trigger an attack—surgery, joint injury or infection. A lifestyle of alcohol and a high purine diet may initiate or worsen attacks.

The liver breaks down purines into uric acid. Foods highest in purines include:

  • organ meats (liver, kidney, etc)
  • poultry
  • other meats
  • seafood (especially anchovies, sardines, mussels)

More moderate amounts of purines can be found in:

  • whole grains
  • yeast
  • certain vegetables (asparagus, beans, cauliflower, mushrooms, peas, spinach)

Although eating foods high in purines increase the chance of an attack, they don’t cause gout.

In September 2012, the American College of Rheumatology issued new guidelines for gout management. Although they suggested eating less purine-rich meats and seafood, they pointed out that lifestyle changes weren’t likely to end attacks.

Recent research, however, found that cherries and cherry extract decreased the risk of gout attacks. Thirty-two percent of participants who ate cherries for two days cut their risk compared to 53 percent who took medication. Including cherries with allopurinol, a common drug used to lower uric acid levels, reduced attacks by as much as 75 percent. Eating more cherries up to three servings (1/2 cup per serving) dropped risks even more.

Cherries contain antioxidants and may inhibit certain enzymes in the same way as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAID) such as ibuprofen. The future looks brighter for sufferers who combine cherries with traditional drugs to lower uric acid levels and reduce the risk of painful gout attacks. For more information about gout, go to www.Gout.com

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