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Saturday, March 10, 2012


1. Drinking more liquids is a must. For me, drinking more water also helped me lose weight, so that was two pluses for me. Drink lots of water.

2. Beverages with additives, such as artificial sweeteners (Aspartame), etc. will not work as well and may have other harmful effects. Obviously, sodas are bad, so are many trendy drinks like Red Bull and Sobe teas. Yes, tea is generally good, but that's if you brew it yourself, not when you buy it in a bottle - just check all the stuff that's listed on the labels to scare you off. When you drink other beverages, keep them natural and clear.

3. Refined sugar and artificial sweeteners, are bad for many other reasons, but the lesson for gout sufferers is that they reduce the kidney's effectiveness. Avoid sugars/artificial sweeteners.

4. Speaking of the kidneys, check to see if your kidneys are healthy. My bouts of gout started after my gall bladder was removed and while I can't be sure, my guess is that my other organs and especially my kidneys, now have to work harder and perform functions they were not used to doing before. Remember, your kidneys are your body's filters (some people worry more about the oil filter in their car than the one in their own body). Keep your filters (kidneys) healthy.

5. Fat, especially animal fat, is bad for gout sufferers and so is excessive protein. I think we can all agree on that - sorry Dr. Atkins. As was mentioned, sushi is especially bad, it's made of uncooked (i.e., produces more uric acid) fish, which is high in protein and fat. Add the fact that it's usually overly salty and eaten with a beer, and you've got one heck of a gout producer. Try making your own sushi with brown rice and veggies -- it's not that bad, really. Avoid fat and protein.

6. We eat too much bad food because it's easy and convenient. We can survive on much less. Is it any wonder that gout is most pronounced in the richest countries? Yes, it certainly occurs in countries like India as mentioned above, but it is much more rare. 

7. We all seem to have trigger foods, but that's not the whole picture. Some of these may not be bad in and of themselves, but combined with other foods and excess, they can produce an attack. Perhaps a condiment or a drink added to the food's potency? Maybe a medication was a conduit rather than the cause? How long ago did you eat that food or take that medicine? So yes, it takes a lot of note-taking to identify your own trigger foods, but it's the only way to establish baselines and get a handle on your own triggers. Did I mention that all our bodies are chemically different, too? Create a food diary and look for patterns.

8. Exercise is key. Let's think about what causes the attacks: crystals in the fluid between our joints. So logically, moving our joints helps move those along. I know some of us have debilitating gout conditions, but we should still try to exercise, even if that means hiding the TV remote and changing the channels manually. Seriously, there are yoga programs for the severely disabled, just do a search online for more info. Oh, and exercise also increases energy, produces endorphins (natural pain killers), and helps with weight loss. 

9. Regarding weight, I wasn't more than 30 pounds overweight, but it was enough to contribute to my attacks. Now my attacks are far less frequent if I keep my weight in check. Lots of people have trouble loosing weight, and from what I've read, it's because they want to lose too much too fast. It took years to accumulate it, so why do we expect it to come off in a few months, or weeks? I simply add my weight to my food diary. Funny thing is, just writing it down and being conscious of it, keeps me from gaining too much. Lose weight, slowly.

10. What to eat. My mother always said, if it's colorful, if it crunches, if it tastes bitter or sour, or if it makes you sweat, it's probably good for you. Now, as for gout, there are a few foods that could be triggers for some of us, but generally we can simplify this rule to: eat lots of colorful and creative salads. It's easy to remember, and if there is a lentil or some cauliflower in there, it's probably much better for you than the pork chops. And I try to use simple vinegar & olive oil dressings too, although as mentioned above, not the sweet ones (may contain Aspartame/Neotame). Finally, skip the cured meats, cheeses, and sweet toppings - those little orange wedges are probably from a can anyhow. Eats lots of salads.

11. As for grocery shopping, I heard this on Oprah: avoid the aisles where all the packaged foods are and stay in the periphery where the vegetables, fruits, dairy and fresh foods are. Seems self-evident enough, but if you read how grocery stores use music, colors, and suggestive psychology to get us to spend more on bad foods, you will also realize how hard it is to stick to your plan (grocery stores are probably the one place where you should keep your iPod on). When grocery shopping, stay on the periphery.

12. Perhaps this is a foregone conclusion, but eat organic. There are lots of "green" labels on foods, but the "organic" one is the most comprehensive. Organic foods will have less additives, chemicals, and preservatives. Yes, organic foods are more expensive, but nothing compared to the mess we will be taking if we continue to eat overly-processed foods. 

In the end, it all boils down pretty much to what we learned when we were children: eat your veggies, drink your milk, and exercise. When we were young we didn't worry much about the milk and veggies, but unfortunately these days, we need to make sure they are healthy too.