Q and A: Get Rid of Gout

| July/August 2007

  • Eating cherries daily can reduce the uric acid levels associated with gout attacks.

My brother has gout and can’t seem to get rid of it. Could you recommend something that might help?
Via e-mail

Khalsa Responds: Gout is caused by an excess of uric acid in the body, resulting from the breakdown of purines, which are part of all human tissue and found in many foods. Eating foods high in purines (mainly proteins) can raise uric acid levels in the blood and exacerbate gout. In addition to careful protein selection, people should watch their alcohol consumption. Alcohol consumption aggravates gout by reducing uric acid elimination from the body and slightly increasing uric acid production. Beer and wine measure higher in purines because of their yeast residues. Further, very high intake of fructose, namely high-fructose corn syrup, can elevate uric acid.

People with gout should avoid:
• Beer and other alcoholic beverages
• Anchovies, oil-packed sardines, fish roes and herring
• Yeast
• Organ meat (liver, kidneys, sweetbreads)
• Legumes (dried beans, peas)
• Meat extracts, consommé, meat gravy
• Mushrooms, spinach, asparagus and cauliflower
• Beverages with high-fructose corn syrup

A gout-prevention diet is high in complex carbohydrates (whole grains, fruits and vegetables), low in protein and low in fat. Dark berries contain chemicals that lower uric acid and reduce inflammation. Fatty acids found in certain fish, nuts, and flax or olive oil have anti-inflammatory benefits. Be sure to include plenty of water, which dilutes the urine and promotes the excretion of uric acid.

The enzyme xanthine oxidase catalyzes the last step in the conversion of purines to uric acid. Allopurinol, the main gout drug, works by inhibiting xanthine oxidase. Certain flavonoids, especially luteolin and apigenin, work nearly as well. Carrots, celery, celery seed, chamomile (Matricaria recutita), many mints (Mentha spp.) and yarrow (Achillea millefolium) are rich sources. Baikal skullcap root (Scutellaria baicalensis) contains several anti-inflammatory flavonoids.

Anthocyanidins and proanthocyanidins, abundant in cherries, grapes and blueberries, also are xanthine oxidase inhibitors. Eating cherries lowers uric acid levels and prevents gout attacks.

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