Gout affects one in 40 of us and numbers on are on the rise. Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can tackle gout, from tweaking your diet to trimming your waistline.
1. Cut out fizzy drinks
Uric acid forms when the body breaks down chemicals called purines. Sugary, fizzy drinks can increase levels of uric acid in the blood, so avoid grabbing a can when you’re thirsty. Cutting out sweet fizzy drinks can also help you keep an eye on your waistline, as being overweight is another risk factor for gout.
2. Try to go meat-free
Foods such as beef, lamb, game, offal including liver and kidneys, and some seafoods such as mackerel, mussels, anchovies, sardines, crab and herring are all high in purines. Aim for a diet where only 15 per cent of your daily calories come from animal protein to help reduce your risk.
You should also avoid products that contain a meat or yeast extract.
3. Ditch protein-rich diets
It’s important to maintain a healthy weight to prevent an attack of gout, but crash diets are not the answer. The common low-carb and high-protein diet is rich in purines, so it can increase your risk.
4. Avoid too much alcohol
Certain types of alcohol, such as beer and stout, can raise uric acid levels in the blood, so cut these out if you suffer from gout. Spirits are linked to a much lower risk of developing gout, and wine – if you stick to the recommended daily amount – is not linked to an increased risk.
Drinking any alcohol to excess has its own health risks. Make sure you stay within the daily guidelines to stay healthy; that’s 3-4 units, or one pint of strong lager, for men, and 2-3 units, or one 175ml glass of wine, for women.
5. Lose some weight
The rise in gout has been linked to our widening waistlines; around 600,000 Brits have already been diagnosed and the incidence is increasing by around 4 per cent a year, every year. As we get fatter, experts predict these numbers will rise even further.
As well as following a healthy diet, try some simple exercises to help whittle your waistline.
6. Up your water intake
Staying well hydrated can help prevent crystals of uric acid forming in your joints. Make sure you’re drinking around 1.2 litres of fluid – including plenty of water – every day, and remember to drink more if you’re exercising or if it’s hot.
7. Try complementary remedies
Some nutrients in supplement form could be helpful, such as proanthocyanidins, which are thought to help neutralise uric acid and reduce inflammation.
Quercetin, which helps to reduce uric acid, may also provide relief.
Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation, so add a supplement to your daily diet if you’re also cutting out certain seafoods that are rich in purines.
Montmorency cherry capsules can help prevent gout too, mainly because cherries are rich in anthocyanidines.
And, although it sounds bizarre, a wilted cabbage leaf wrapped around a painful joint could relieve the agony during an attack!
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This article has been adapted from longer features appearing in Healthy, the Holland & Barrett magazine. Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP before trying any remedies.