Once you have gout, it’s with you for the rest of your life. But that doesn’t mean you’re going to experience gout attacks frequently. You can have this condition and still live a normal life. The key is to prevent flares from happening. Thankfully, there are many things you can do to make that possible. Here are ways you can prevent a gout attack from happening.
- Change your diet
When you were first diagnosed with gout, one of the things your doctor probably told you was to change your diet. This is because the uric acid that builds up in your joints is likely because of the purines in your food. Purines are produced naturally in your body but they can also come from food.
When you eat, the purines in your food get converted into uric acid which is then what leads to a build up. The higher the purine content a food item has, the higher the uric acid will be. For example, red meat is very high in purines so you’re advised to limit your intake to only two servings a week. Spinach is also high in purines so you may need to cut back on that as well.
This is where it gets a bit tricky since not all food with high purines are bad. Changing your diet is not going to be as easy as saying no to high purine foods and saying yes to low purine foods. We mentioned earlier that spinach is a vegetable that’s high in purine and so is asparagus, bananas, and lentils but rarely do you hear of gout patients suffering from a gout attack from eating these. This is because plant-based purines are not as harmful as meat-based ones. The vitamins and nutrients found in fruits are vegetables are often enough to counteract its potential harmful effect.
To prevent gout, you want to consume most of your healthy carbs from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Fats can come from sources like milk and cheese since dairy has been found to have a uricosuric effect on gout. Lastly, your protein intake should be limited to fatty fish, lean meat, and beans. Avoid red meats and organ meats since those increase your risk for a gout attack.
- Avoid triggers
Trying to figure out the right diet for preventing gout can be overwhelming in the beginning. The good news is that there are easy-to-remember known triggers for gout. These are food items that have been found to elevate uric acid levels and cause a gout flare:
- Some fish like anchovies, sardines, herring, mussels, trout, and haddock
- Shellfish like shrimp and lobster
- Red meats
- Organ meats
- Sugary drinks
- Refined grains
- Processed food
We know it’s hard to say no to all these items but by being aware of what the common gout trigger foods are, you can be more conscious of what you eat and limit your intake of these food items.
- Stay hydrated
Drinking lots of water is very beneficial for your health, not just for preventing gout. It aids with digestion, lubes the joints, regulates body temperature, maintains blood pressure and so much more. With gout, water really comes in handy because it dilutes the uric acid concentration in your body. When you drink water throughout the day, you’re also more likely to urinate which means you are expelling that excess uric acid. Less uric acid means less chances of build up in your joints. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. If you can, drink more. Your body will thank you for it!
- Get active
There is strong correlation between having gout and being overweight. When you are overweight, you’re likely to have higher uric acid in your body. Aside from changing your diet, you were also probably advised to lose weight. Exercise can help you get to your target weight faster and lessen your risk for gout attacks.
For gout sufferers, the best exercises are those that strengthen the joints. Carrying all that weight takes a toll on your joints, not to mention, it is the most affected area when you experience a gout attack. Some good exercises that you can do include cardio, swimming, biking, yoga, and pilates.
Start small and build up your routine gradually. You don’t want to lose too much weight too fast as this can be another cause for a gout attack. And make sure you stay hydrated while exercising.
- Take medication regularly
Living with gout means you have to take your medication religiously. We mentioned how diet and exercise can help prevent gout but those can only do so much. Some gout sufferers make the mistake of quitting their medicine thinking that their healthy habits are enough to protect them from a future attack.
Gout is a condition where the body either produces too much uric acid or it cannot eliminate it fast enough. This is why medicine is necessary. Depending on your situation, you will be given the appropriate medicine to help you.
It also helps if the prescription comes from a rheumatologist, a specialist who is knowledgeable about gout. Your general practitioner may be able to prescribe you certain meds but a specialist is better able to give you the right one that works best for your condition.
- Take supplements
In addition to taking medication, you can also take certain supplements to prevent gout. These are extracts from certain fruits that are known to support gout health. One of them is cherry supplements.
When you have gout, it’s a good habit to include cherries in your diet. Cherries are high in vitamin C and several studies have already shown its efficacy for preventing gout attacks. But then not everyone has access to cherries or can eat 10 cherries a day, everyday. This is where cherry supplements come in handy. Take one a day and you should be able to keep gout at bay.
Which of these remedies was the most helpful in your case? Share your thoughts in the comments below.