- Fast. During an acute flare, stop eating except for veggie juices and diluted fruit juices. There are several reasons for this. One is to cut off the supply of food which gets converted to uric acid. Another is because your body does a better job of healing itself when it’s not busy constantly digesting things. Give it a break. Especially if you have plenty of calories stored on your person, it won’t hurt you to stop eating for a day or three.
- Hydrate. Drink water and plenty of it. The goal is to dissolve the crystals and pee off the excess uric acid. Four to five liters of water per day is a good baseline for an adult.
- Tart CHERRY juice concentrate. Tart cherry juice helps you get rid of uric acid and helps reduce inflammation that’s causing pain. It’s strong so dilute it in water—2 tablespoons in a glass of water is about right. During an attack drink it all day. For longterm prevention just take one glass of water with tart cherry in it at bedtime. From here down these changes need to be longterm.
- Avoid NSAIDS. The problem is that ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin are notoriously hard on your kidneys, and you need your kidneys working right to get rid of the uric. NSAIDS also impair your healing response. It may be OK to use them occasionally, but DON’T use them every day.
- Cut BEER. Beer is one of the strongest diuretics out there, and it contains purines which get converted to uric acid. Double whammy, beer is a gout-maker. Cut it out entirely if possible. Coffee and wine, while mild diuretics, are less harmful.
- Cut SOFT DRINKS. Anything with fructose in it, including agave syrup, impairs your body’s elimination of uric acid. And they make you die sooner anyway, so quit.
- Abolish Cigarettes. There are few things more inflammatory than smoking. Quit, already. It's not easy but you can do it.
- Easy on the Nightshades. These are tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplants. You can eat a little but a lot could trigger an attack. Tobacco is a nightshade too.
- Get your Vitamin C. Longterm high vitamin C intake is preventative. Eat fruit!! And onions.
- Consume OMEGA 3 Fats. Either take Fish Oil or eat fatty fish 2-3 times/week. You need about 3 grams/day from whichever sources, or 4-6 grams during a flare.
- Easy on Animal foods. You can eat meat, cheese and eggs but keep the portions smallish longterm. Animal foods contain purines that make uric in your blood. Eat veggies!!
- SLEEP well. Your best healing is done when you get good rest.
- If you are able to do most of the things on this list and do them consistently you won’t need drug treatment to clear an attack and prevent future ones.
You get a gout diagnosis when your blood is tested and it contains too much uric acid. It happens more with age, and more to men. Uric acid forms crystals that settle in the joints, and dissolve again when the concentration dips. The problem is that the crystals poke holes in the tissues where they form and damage it, causing inflammation (pain, heat, redness) that takes longer to resolve than the crystals take to dissolve. To fix it you have to both dissolve the crystals and heal the tissue. Here is a list of ideas to help you do just that.
Most of us don't eat enough fruit and veggies. It's so easy to eat processed stuff and meat and cheese instead. It takes effort to eat a healthy diet. I happen to agree with Michael Pollan who wrote "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." But how can we safely eat mostly plant matter when it has toxic chemicals sprayed on it?
There are several tricks to getting or making clean food. The first and most obvious is to grow it yourself. Unfortunately gardening is time-consuming, and you can't get tomatoes in winter. Some folks can't or won't grow food. Grow what you can when you can, and forgive yourself when you can't. Home-grown tomatoes are one of the great pleasures in life.
If you're not going to grow it yourself, perhaps you have a job that will allow you to buy clean organic produce. There's more of it available all the time. If you have a local source of produce that isn't organic certified but is still cleaner than grocery store produce, use that. Farmer's markets are nice because you can talk to the farmer about what they use to manage pests and weeds.
The plant foods that you should try to buy clean are listed by the environmental working group every year as the "dirty dozen". The 2017 list (below) includes many of our favorite fruits and veggies.
The EPA sets limits for pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and other chemicals on food, and those limits are not zero. There's no way you can avoid every toxin in or on commercial food, but it's worth some effort to minimize your exposures. Young people and children have the most to gain in terms of healthy life years.
Some contaminants are easier to remove than others. Strawberries are covered in little pores and it is impossible to get the pesticides off (out) of them, so it is important to buy those organic or choose another fruit. Apples are also hard to clean because they can have a coat of parrafin (to make them shiny) that seals in the pesticides. Potatoes may be less important to buy organic if you peel off a good layer and boil them too. Boiling has been shown to remove or destroy some of the contaminants.
A review of the literature reveals that washing your veggies in tap water for 30 seconds actually removes most of the pesticides and fungicides. Unfortunately there are some that water does not remove, including chlorpyrifos (a nerve-gas pesticide) and vinclozolin (a fungicide). Thankfully these are removed by soaking in an acid solution, acetic acid being the most effective. Acetic acid is vinegar. The longer you soak your veggies the more of the chlorpyrifos is removed. My rule is to soak my cherries in a 5% vinegar solution for at least an hour.
Why do we care about chlorpyrifos? You may have heard about it in the news. It was originally developed as a nerve gas by the Nazis. Now it is used as a pesticide because it paralyzes insects. No surprise that it also wreaks havoc on the human nervous system. It was slated to be banned until Trump got elected. It's already banned for indoor use. Dow chemical (the maker of chlorpyrifos) donated a million bucks to Trump's inauguration fund to make sure that their profitable poison would remain legal. The EPA reversed course and this toxin will be sprayed on veggies and golf courses, in spite of the fact that it shrinks and deforms children's brains, lowers their IQs, and is linked to lung cancer and Parkinsons. Chlorpyrifos sticks to fruit even when it's rinsed in tap water.
For the foreseeable future we will need to work to avoid this toxin as best we can. This means seeking clean sources for our produce (gardens, farmer's markets, buying organic), washing it, peeling and boiling what can be peeled and boiled, and soaking plants that we eat with the skin on in a vinegar solution for at least an hour.
If you need a little good news to help wash off the sad feeling about all this poison, below are the kinds of food least likely to be contaminated. =-] Eat more of them.
Author: Teresa Gryder
Integrative Physician and Student of Life, Medicine, and the River.