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Gout is a form of arthritis caused when excess uric acid crystallizes and is deposited on the joints. The uric acid collects and forms crystals in the body because the kidneys do not excrete enough of it or the body over-produces it.
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What Is Gout and What Causes It?
What is gout? Gout usually affects the extremities like the big toe, wrists, or fingers, and is incredibly painful. The joints swell and become inflamed; some relief may be obtained with the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, but it can be debilitating or crippling. Knowing the best gout foods to eat is an excellent way to manage gout.
Gout has been linked to eating too many foods high in purines like meats, sea foods, dried beans, or peas. Gout sufferers should eliminate these from their diets, unless advised otherwise by their health care professional.
Excessive alcohol consumption increases the risk of gout according to an article in the Harvard Medical School Family Guide. Furthermore, research indicates that gorging on protein, illness, or even stress can be gout triggers, and men are statistically more likely to develop the condition than women. The condition is exacerbated by obesity and other factors like inflammation but is alleviated by exercise and a gout-friendly diet.
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Inflammation and Gout
Many health professionals are urging those with gout, and other inflammatory diseases, to become more aware of how food choices determine the amount of inflammation in the body. Everyone is familiar with inflammation – a scraped knee that becomes hot, swollen, and infected is an example of inflammation – but not everyone knows the connection between inflammation and food.
The amount and types of food eaten plays a part in determining the amount of inflammation in the body. Some foods stimulate the release of more anti-inflammatory chemicals, while others stimulate the production of inflammatory chemicals. These chemicals are called prostaglandins.
The Inflammation Factor Rating (IF) system was developed by author and nutritionist Monica Reinagel to give individuals suffering from inflammatory issues, like gout and other arthritis-related disease, a way to make better food choices. By eating more anti-inflammatory foods, individuals gain relief from gout. However, because gout is such a painful diease, and so closely related to diet, gout sufferers would be wise to consult with their doctor or dietician before making any changes, such as eating high IF foods, to their dietary plans for gout foods to eat.
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Best Foods for Gout Sufferers
Here is a handy pocket guide to the best foods to eat to manage gout. Print this list out and take it to the grocery store for convenience when shopping. Most of these foods have a high IF rating, which means they are highly anti-inflammatory and therefore, smart nutritional choices for a gout diet. Let's examine some beneficial spices and herbs to alleviate gout.
Sprinkle these spices on foods to help the body fight inflammation and reduce gout symptoms.
- Chili powder
Many of these spices and herbs are easily grown in containers or windowsill gardens. Basil and coriander, in particular, thrive well in containers. Why not plant a few and keep them in the kitchen for easy access to fresh herbs to help relieve gout? For more information on the health benefits of herbs, please read "Little Known Secret Healing Powers of Turmeric Spice."
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Reduce Gout Symptoms with These Vegetables
Guess what, mom was right. Everyone needs to eat those green leafy vegetables and their tasty counterparts. Eating carrots may help you see better, and it definitely reduces the risk of a painful gout episode. Just one caveat: avoid any purine rich vegetables or other foods.
- Broccoli raab
- Greens (turnip, mustard, dandelion)
- Lettuces (eat a variety of types)
- Sweet peppers
These are just a few of the many beneficial vegetables that encourage the body to produce protaglandins. Be sure to include several servings of these in daily meals.
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Eat More Fish and Suffer Less from Gout
Gout sufferers benefit from including more fish, fish oil, and other foods with essential fatty acids (EFA) into daily diets. Here is a list of some anti-inflammatory fish choices to get you started on the path to better health by choosing the right gout foods to eat.
- Mollusks (like whelk)
These are just a few of the best gout foods to eat, and it is important to remember that individual sensitivity to foods may vary from individual to individual. For instance, one person may tolerate a purine containing food like asparagus with no ill effect, while another may find that it triggers a response. For that reason, it is important to work closely with your health care provider and dietician to develop a personalized plan to control your gout.
To find a complete list and IF rating for foods, please consult “Foods with the Highest IF Rating.” Focusing on eating the proper foods, avoiding purine rich foods, and exercising daily not only relieves the pain of gout, it just might help individuals lose weight and become healthier. To learn more about the food and health connection, read "Who Else Wants to Know Why Biblical Food Coriander and Cilantro are Good for You."
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The information in this article is presented for educational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for the advice of a health care professional. Please read this disclaimer about the information provided here.
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Nutrition Data, “Inflammation & IF Rating,”accessed 05/29/2010
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, “What is Gout?”, March 2005, accessed 05/29/2010
Mayo Clinic, "Gout," accessed 03/22/2011