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6 Lifestyle Tweaks To Prevent Or Manage Gout

6 Lifestyle Tweaks To Prevent Or Manage Gout

Gout is a very painful condition that many people experience. A form of arthritis that triggers painful inflammation of some joints, gout strikes when the body is unable to flush out excess uric acid. This leads to the formation of urate crystals around certain joints, triggering agonizing inflammation and tenderness that can last several days. Uric acid in humans comes from the breaking down of purines, which occur naturally in our bodies and in some foods we eat.

Living with gout is a painful reality for millions around the world. Because the pain is so severe, it can be debilitating at times. Fortunately, there are different ways that people can control and prevent this condition from flaring up. Some health professionals have stated that some small tweaks in one’s lifestyle can eventually reduce the frequency and severity of gout flareups.

1. Watch what you eat

As a general rule of thumb, here are some foods that will cause and exacerbate the condition:

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Seafood

There are people in the world that love their seafood. In fact, any food that comes from the sea can be the start of a wonderful meal.

Sadly, when people who love these foods begin to suffer with gouty arthritis, it is important for them to switch their diets right away. Some kinds of seafood may be eaten every once in a while, while others should be removed from the list completely to keep gouty arthritis at bay.

Specifically, seafood that should be removed from the diet include anchovies, herring, sardines, mussels, scallops, trout, haddock, mackerel, and tuna. The culprit that causes problems with consuming seafood is the high concentration of purines, since the body does not store purines but breaks them down into uric acid.

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Meats

“Health is a very basic and important necessity,” — Mo Chapman, Aberdovey Lifeboat crew

Everyone can agree with that statement. No matter if you have a gout condition or not, we all have to be careful about what we eat, especially in today’s world of processed and fast foods. As for those with gout, red meats and turkey should avoided. Even though white meats and red meats are normally placed on the family table, gout sufferers must be informed and make the right dietary decisions when given these two choices. Typically, white meats are relatively safe because they have lower purine contents. On the other hand, this statement is not true for red meats — these meats have higher purine contents and will produce higher levels of uric acid.

Other specific foods

Other foods and beverages to watch out for are organ meats like liver and kidney, drinks sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, and poultry like turkey and goose. Some vegetables like asparagus and cauliflower are high in purines, but they are safer to consume than purine-rich meats.

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2. Keep weight gain in check

Maintaining a healthy weight is the best management strategy for gout. Weight gain increases the risk of flareups. If you have gained weight, try to shed the pounds by following a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Cardiovascular exercises such as swimming or doing water aerobics on your own will help lower body muscle strengthening and improve lung function, along with increasing mobility and joint functions without the pull of full gravity. This means less stress on your joints.

Drastic crash diets, however, are not recommended because they disrupt the body’s natural rhythms and can spike uric acid counts, ending up doing more harm than good.

3. Keep hydrated

Optimal hydration is a great defense against gout attacks. Keeping the blood and urine flowing helps flush out excess uric acid. Water is the best bet and you should drink lots of it. You can also consume decaffeinated tea and coffee. But steer clear of drinks sweetened with high fructose corn syrup.

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4. Cut alcohol consumption

Beer is a no-no for gout sufferers because it spikes levels of uric acid and prevents the body from flushing it out. Wine is a better choice, but only in moderation. Excess of any form of alcohol is a bad idea for health in general, and gout patients in particular.

5. Monitor uric acid levels

Visit your doctor regularly and make sure your uric acid level is closely monitored. The ideal is a count below 6 milligrams per deciliter. If your gout is severe and chronic, the doctor might recommend regular medication to bring it under control.

6. Load up on vitamin C

There is growing medical consensus that vitamin C is beneficial for patients with gouty arthritis. Talk to your doctor about whether you should consider taking supplements. If not, you could always include more vitamin C-rich foods like citrus fruits in your diet.

It’s easy to make these tweaks because none of them involves drastic changes to one’s lifestyle. All it takes is your own discipline and willingness. Making these changes can spell the difference between getting gout under control or letting it control your life.

Featured photo credit: Shayneppl via shutterstock.com

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Junie Rutkevich

Lifestyle writer and author of "Healthy Eating Habits: A Get-Healthy Guide To Tweak And Balance Your Daily Diet"

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Last Updated on July 23, 2019

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut, only to get back into another one.

How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

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  • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
  • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
  • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
  • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
  • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
  • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnation, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help. Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

1. Realize You’re Not Alone

Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths. Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

2. Find What Inspires You

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Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation. What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem. If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

3. Give Yourself a Break

When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

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Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave. Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future. These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

4. Shake up Your Routines

Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’s 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

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When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

5. Start with a Small Step

Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward. Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years. On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

More to Help You Stay Motivated

Here are some resources that will help you break out of your current phase:

Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

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