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6 Lifestyle Tweaks To Prevent Or Manage Gout

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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.

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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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