What is gout and who is affected by it?
Gout is typically referred to by medical doctors as a form of arthritis where patients experience pain and inflammation in the joints, typically in the big toe, but can appear elsewhere in the body such as fingers, knees and hips. In my naturopathy practice, I have seen several men with gout, all over the age of 50. Their diets are usually the culprit. Consuming too much red meat and alcohol is a huge contributing factor. Women and even children can have attacks of gout if their uric levels are too high.
WE know that the cause of gout is because of uric acid that is too high in the blood, but the question is …why would that happen? If you consume a diet that is very high in protein causing your body to make too much uric acid, the acids can remain where they are and form crystals if your elimination is weak and cannot release the excess. Uric acid usually disintegrates in your blood, moves through the kidneys and exits the body, all without causing harm. But if your lymphatic system is sluggish and unable to move out the acids, they form painful crystals that attack your joints and tissues.
An unhealthy diet triggers gout attacks, especially those diets that are loaded with alcohol, high fructose corn syrup, and processed foods, and too much purine rich foods such as organs and red meats, shellfish, anchovies, for example. If you are obese, have high blood pressure, or diabetes, you are at risk.
Doctors will try and treat their patients with NSAIDS to help relieve the pain from the inflammation, or prescribe stronger medication, but this does not help to get to the root cause of the problem.
A change in diet to more fruits and vegetables, avoiding red meat and alcohol and processed foods can help tremendously. Dr. Michael Greger encourages the use of cherries and cherry juice in this video about gout.
Healthy fats aid in regulating insulin and leptin levels. Good choices are coconut oil, avocados, olive oil and raw butter. There are several therapeutic herbs that are super anti-inflammatory such as ginger, turmeric, and ashwagandha. Good sources of potassium are essential to help eliminate the uric acid from the kidneys. These include avocados, leafy greens, and broccoli.
Of course, adding exercise would be the ideal thing to do to get your lymph moving which would help push these acids out and direct more blood flow to the affected areas. It is often painful to do anything weight bearing if you are in an acute phase, so the best choices of aerobic exercise would be swimming and biking.
The Total Gym is a perfect piece of equipment if you have gout because you can work out your entire body using your own body weight in the comfort of your home. You can perform all exercises in a lying, seated, or kneeling position, without putting any pressure on your feet, which is typically where the inflammation resides.
I love this new video series that Maria Sollon put together. The videos are easy to follow and give you many options if there are certain exercises that do not feel good for you. The ease of moving the slide board lower to lessen the intensity for any exercise is brilliant. There is always a different way you can position your body to avoid localized pain.
As always, with any adverse condition that the body is expressing, it is best to address the cause, and move on with a change in lifestyle and nutrition. If you continue to treat the problem, the condition will become chronic and it will be harder to heal.