“You are what you eat”. This idiom that we have heard and read countless times is a perfect reminder of the essence of making better food choices for living a healthier life. Apparently, the food that we serve in our tables could contribute to the quality of life we lead. Researchers have long stressed out how our food choices can affect our risk in developing diseases. One of these diseases, worth delving into is Gout.
Gout as you all know is a genetic metabolic disorder that occurs when there is excessive accumulation of uric acid in the tissues. Purines may be misunderstood however as the primary nemesis of gout sufferers but in general we need purines in our diet. These are natural substances found in all of the cells in our bodies and components that make up our DNAs. Uric acid is the metabolic end-product of purines and normally is steadily excreted into the urine. The biochemical defect that leads to abnormal concentration is not yet known. The problem that leads to this disease is when uric acid levels in the blood and other parts of the body become too high under certain circumstances. If the kidneys do not properly eliminate uric acid or there is a high production of uric acid, it can lead to high levels of uric acid in the blood — a condition referred to as hyperuricemia. When uric acid accumulates, it builds up needle like crystals called urate crystals that can become deposited in our tendons, joints, kidneys and other organs that is where we get our gouty arthritis.
If you are one of the many who suffer from this painful disease your doctor would advise you to restrict your diet to foods with high levels of purine concentration. This is of course for the reason that uric acid is formed from the breakdown of purines, low-purine diets are then used to aid in reducing uric acid levels. In junction, here is the list of foods a gout sufferer could eat in a low purine diet.
Let’s start-off with the most fundamental home remedy for gout flare-ups–Water. You can’t go wrong with water. Water is simply life. It hydrates our bodies and is one of the critical elements necessary for normal body functioning. The electrolytes we get from drinking water go into our bodies and transport it to the cells. By staying properly hydrated we help our kidneys flush out waste products. As such, eliminates excess uric acid in our bloodstreams. A study made by the Boston University of Medicine, revealed that by having five to eight glasses of water in the past 24 hours was associated with a 40% lower risk of having a gout attack, compared with drinking none or one glass of water in the past day. However in any way, water is not a replacement of any other remedies prescribed by doctors.
2. Coffee and Tea
Coffee and tea have long been considered as anti-oxidants. It is believed that coffee and tea consumption may affect uric acid levels. Coffee in itself is a widely consumed beverage in the world. One large scale study led by Hyon K. Choi, of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, revealed that levels of uric acid in the blood significantly decreased with increasing coffee intake. Interestingly enough the study also indicated that the more coffee men drink, the lower their risk of gout, at least four cups a day lowers gout risk by 40%.Drinking one to three cups of coffee a day lowered gout risk by only 8%. But drinking four or five cups a day dropped gout risk by 40%. And true coffee addicts — those who drank six cups a day or more — had nearly a 60% lower risk of gout.
Low-fat milk products have been recognized as an important nutritional factor in reducing and lowering the risk of gout development because of their low purine content. Based on The Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (HPFS) it indicated that milk products were linked with a lower risk of gout, with a multivariate relative risk of 0.82 per additional daily serving of milk products (95% CI: 0.75-0.90). With this result, drinking milk then can help this disease from occurring by lowering our acid uric levels.
Cheese like any other dairy products, contains minimal levels of purine that is why it could be considered as one of the foods gout patients could eat on a low purine diet. It is no wonder then that we don’t see Mickey Mouse limping through the day.
It is said that the quality of protein we consume matters more than the quantity. Gout is mainly caused by overindulgence of meat and animal fat. Potatoes recommended by the University of Rochester as part of a healthy diet for gout sufferers, contains an ideal blend of essential amino acids. They also have high potassium content making them an ideal alternative to offset the surplus acid found in meat and dairy products. However, before rushing out to your nearest fast food chain to buy yourself some fries, you should also keep in mind that French fries and roast potatoes lose about 30-40%, and peeled, boiled potatoes lose as much as 30-50% of their Vitamin C. And although it may contain low levels of purine, potatoes especially fried have high levels of cholesterol so you may want to eat it in moderation.
6. Wheat Bread
Whole grain breads are healthier than refined carbohydrates as it contains lower sugar levels but contains moderate amounts of purine. It is still a safer and better choice for gout diets though, than purine rich foods.
Macaroni just like other noodles and pastas provide a healthier option for gout sufferers.
Eating fruits rich in Vitamin C such as oranges, apples and cherries reduces risk of gout attacks and are therefore safe for gout patients on a low purine diet. One interesting findings of a study suggests that there may be some basis to the ingestion of cherry extract or cherries to reduce attacks of gout. In general, all cherries contain Vitamin C and fiber which help reduce uric acid level up to 50% and control inflammation of gout-ravaged joints. Cherry extract blocks the tubular reabsorption of urate and increases urate excretion in the urine. Cherry juice may also block xanthine oxidase and reduce the production of uric acid.
As of the moment, even though medical science has made great strides to eradicate disease, a number of ailments remain to be conquered. And although there is no absolute cure for gouts, avoiding food that could trigger it makes a lot of difference. The key principle in motion here has always been moderation. Anything that is too much is not good. Less of a good thing is not also alright. Proper diet along with prescribed medication plays an essential role in the prevention and treatment of this disease. And even if there are bodily mechanisms that contribute to this disease that are out of our control, ultimately our choices are always what matters the most.