It may have first appeared in your toe, but it may now affect other areas of your body such as your ankles, knees or elbows. Gout is one of the most painful forms of arthritis, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, and is caused by the buildup of uric acid in the blood, which then settles in the joints.
While medication is often used to treat gout, there are additional remedies that may also help, including eating a healthy diet, limiting your intake of foods that increase uric acid and drinking plenty of water. Consult your doctor about specific remedies for treating your gout.
Uric acid is a byproduct of the degradation of purines, which are substances found in every tissue in your body, as well as a variety of foods. In most circumstances, uric acid dissolves in your blood and is excreted out of your body through your kidneys.
However, if you make too much uric acid, eat too many high-purine foods or your body cannot get rid of the uric acid, it builds up in your blood. If too many uric acid crystals settle in your joints, you may develop gout.
Eating a healthy diet that limits your intake of purine-rich food may help reduce your risk of developing gout. Eliminate high-purine foods from your diet such as beer, sugary soft drinks, fatty foods, organ meats such as liver, bacon, veal, venison, anchovies, sardines, scallops and gravy. Foods you may need to limit include meat, poultry and shellfish.
To reduce symptoms, fill your diet with nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables, whole grains, cold-water fish such as salmon, tofu and beans. The University of Maryland Medical Center also suggests you increase your intake of magnesium-rich foods such as barley, corn, avocados, bananas and potatoes.
Foods that cause flare-ups vary from person-to-person, according to FamilyDoctor.org. Keep track of intake and symptoms to find foods that cause problems for you.
Not getting enough to drink may trigger a flare-up, according to UMMC. How much you need to drink to prevent dehydration depends on a number of factors including diet, age, gender, activity, health, medication and weather. FamilyDoctor.org suggests you drink 12 cups of fluid a day, including water or juice. If you're watching your calories for weight control, make water your first choice for hydration.
Eating cherries or drinking its juice may also help reduce gout attacks. A study published in 2012 in Arthritis and Rheumatism found that people who ate cherries or took a cherry extract had a lower risk of having a gout attack compared to those who did not eat cherries or cherry extract.
Cherry juice also reduces risk of a gout attack, according to a 2013 letter to the editor also published in Arthritis and Rheumatism. It's not fully understood how cherries or cherry juice helps, but it may due to its vitamin C content, according to the 2013 letter.
You may need to supplement your diet with vitamins if you're deficient, says UMMC, which may include a daily multivitamin, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin C if necessary. You may also consider herbal supplements; however, the evidence to support claims related to this type of supplementation and gout is limited, according to Arthritis Research UK. Consult your doctor before adding vitamin or herbal supplements to your daily regimen to discuss benefits and risks.
- National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: Fast Facts About Gout
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Gout
- FamilyDoctor.org: Low-Purine Diet
- Clemson Cooperative Extension: Fluids
- Arthritis and Rheumatism: Cherry Consumption and Decreased Risk of Current Gout Attacks
- Arthritis and Rheumatism: Previously Reported Prior Studies of Cherry Juice Concentrate for Gout Flare Prophylaxis: Comment on Article by Zhang et al.
- Arthritis Research UK: Self-Help and Daily Living for Gout