Gout Causes, Treatments and 11 Natural Remedies

Do you have swelling or pain in one of your joints that just won’t go away, no matter what you do?

You could be experiencing gout, which is the result of the buildup of uric acid in your system.

Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis, and the needlelike crystals that form from the acid cause many different symptoms, which can make your life difficult.

Learning to naturally treat and control gout can be helpful for anyone who suffers from this disorder, and this guide will let you know all the best natural remedies and dietary recommendations for treating gout at home.

As the obesity epidemic continues to rise, so do the diagnoses for gout.

Problems like high blood pressure and other cardiovascular factors can place you at increased risk for developing gout, too.

Gout is more likely to affect men than women, and your risk of developing it increases as you get older.

Currently, about 8 million people have gout in the US (1).

In order to understand how to treat gout, let’s start by examining the causes and symptoms of this inflammatory disorder.

Then we can decide which natural treatments and changes to your lifestyle are going to help alleviate your symptoms.

 

What is Gout?

In your joints, an excess of uric acid forms into urate crystals, which can cause pain, inflammation, and other symptoms.

Also known as gouty arthritis, gout can cause redness, swelling, and intense pain, which can be excruciating at times.

Gout usually impacts one joint at a time, most often the big toe.

Flare-ups can occur when symptoms get worse.

Remission can also occur when there are no symptoms at all.

If you repeatedly get bouts of gout, it can lead to gouty arthritis.

There is no cure for gout, but most people can manage symptoms through lifestyle changes, and medication can also be used to manage symptoms.

 

Causes of Gout

You make uric acid when your body breaks down compounds known as purines.

The hyperuricemia that leads to gout is the result of too much of this acid in your system.

Several factors increase your chances of developing hyperuricemia, which can cause gout.

These risk factors include (2):

  • Obesity
  • Insulin resistance
  • Hypertension
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Certain medications, such as diuretics
  • Alcohol
  • Foods that are high in fructose
  • Foods with high amounts of purines

 

Symptoms of Gout

A flare-up of gout may begin suddenly and last for just a few days, or last for weeks or longer.

Gout flares are usually sudden, with no buildup of symptoms.

Luckily, gout flares are generally limited to one joint at a time, but the symptoms can be very intense.

The most common areas for a gout flare-up are the toes, knees, and ankles.

Symptoms of gout can include (3):

  • Intense pain
  • Swelling of the affected joint
  • Redness
  • Heat in the affected area

While there are many natural remedies and lifestyle changes that can treat gout, some opt for conventional treatment to ease severe symptoms.

 

Treating Gout Conventionally

Most commonly, pain medications and anti-inflammatory drugs are used to treat gout.

When flare-ups are severe, your doctor may prescribe corticosteroids, hormones, or other medications.

When diet and lifestyle changes have been unsuccessful in relieving gout symptoms, they should be a last resort.

The most common drugs used to treat gout are Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, Colchicine, Corticotropin, Zyloprim, Febuxostat, and Aloprim.

Many of the drugs used to treat gout come with adverse side effects, which include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, dizziness, rash, headaches, fluid retention, drowsiness, shortness of breath, and even kidney or liver failure.

These medications only treat the symptoms of gout, not the underlying cause.

Your doctor will likely recommend lifestyle changes to help you treat your gout.

Reducing your consumption of foods with purines is an excellent first step toward preventing future flare-ups.

Other natural treatments and lifestyle changes that prevent the buildup of uric acid are necessary to help relieve gout symptoms.

 

Eating to Treat Gout

More people than ever are suffering from gout, mainly because the Western diet has become focused on processed foods and the use of lots of refined sugars and grains.

For instance, high-fructose corn syrup is now found in a vast majority of processed and packaged foods, and it’s a leading contributor to gout.

At least half of all individuals with gout are overweight or obese.

Changing your diet and lowering your weight can help reduce your gout symptoms, and treat problems that obesity contributes to.

By making changes to your diet, you can significantly reduce the compounds in your body that lead to an excess of uric acid, which is what causes gout.

A change in your diet can be a fairly simple solution to your gout symptoms, and the changes you make can have additional health benefits.

 

Eat for Health

Focus on eating a healthy diet, which includes whole foods that mainly come from plants.

You want to eat plenty of high-fiber foods, including vegetables, fruits, seeds, and nuts.

Your body uses fiber to get rid of uric acid.

Eating foods with plenty of potassium is also helpful, as it promotes a balance of fluids in your system, which is helpful for gout sufferers.

Avocados, coconut water, bananas, apricots, salmon, and squash are all excellent sources of potassium.

Fresh cherries and berries contain helpful compounds that can neutralize uric acid, so include them in your diet.

Eating plenty of wild-caught fish and other sources of omega-3 fatty acids can help you lower inflammation, which is a painful symptom of gout.

Finally, drink plenty of water each day.

Your goal should be eight ounces every two hours.

This tactic helps effectively flush the uric acid from your system.

 

Foods You Should Eliminate or Enjoy in Moderation

Because food can significantly contribute to your gout symptoms, it’s important to treat this disorder by avoiding the foods that cause uric acid formation in your body.

By changing your diet, you may avoid the need for any type of medication, and see your symptoms significantly improve or disappear altogether.

 

High-purine Foods

To eliminate gout, you must eliminate the sources of uric acid in your diet.

The #1 source of uric acid is foods high in purines.

The following foods should be entirely avoided if you have gout:

  • Anchovies
  • Sardines
  • Herring
  • Codfish
  • Mussels
  • Scallops
  • Haddock
  • Trout
  • Bacon
  • Venison
  • Veal
  • Organ meats
  • Turkey

The following foods should only be eaten in moderation, as they contain moderate amounts of purines:

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Pork
  • Ham
  • Duck
  • Crab
  • Oysters
  • Shrimp
  • Lobster

Researchers used to believe that plant sources of protein high in purines also contribute to symptoms, but new evidence indicates that these plant sources are safe for individuals with gout to eat (4).

 

Reduce or Eliminate Your Sugar Intake

Those with diets high in sugars are more likely to have gout, in addition to other medical issues.

Excessive sugar contributes to the buildup of uric acid.

Especially look for the use of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in processed foods, but also carefully look for other added sugars, such as:

  • Cane juice and cane syrup
  • Corn sweetener or corn syrup
  • Dextrose
  • Fructose
  • Glucose
  • Lactose
  • Maltose
  • Malt syrup
  • Sucrose

It’s important to avoid processed foods made with granulated white sugar, honey, agave syrup, brown sugar, confectioners’ sugar, invert sugar, molasses, raw sugar, or syrup.

These sugars should only be enjoyed occasionally, not daily or weekly.

 

Reduce or Eliminate Grains in Your Diet

Simple, refined carbohydrates are easily converted to sugar in your body, which can contribute to gout.

By eliminating all refined grains and only choosing whole grains, you can reduce your gout symptoms.

For some people who have a sensitivity to gluten, eliminating it from wheat products is another way to lower inflammation.

 

Reduce or Eliminate Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol is also easily converted into sugar.

If you’re already at a healthy weight and have no other symptoms beyond gout, you may be able to enjoy one serving of alcohol per day, but most people with gout will find some relief when they completely eliminate alcohol from their diet.

 

Eliminate Sodas of All Kinds

Regular and diet sodas contain high amounts of sugars or artificial sweeteners.

Even diet sodas can cause inflammation that your already inflamed joints don’t need.

Individuals who drink regular soda significantly increase their chances of getting gout, with estimates being as much as 85% more likely.

Now that you know what to eat and what to eliminate from your diet, let’s examine some other lifestyle changes that can help improve or eliminate your gout symptoms.

 

Natural Remedies for Treating Gout

Managing your gout symptoms can improve your quality of life, as gout can affect your daily activities, including work and leisure time.

In most cases, you can manage your gout yourself by using low- or no-cost strategies that have no side effects.

 

Be Active

Regular exercise helps you control your weight, and since obesity is linked to gout symptoms, this benefit can help you reduce your symptoms as well.

For a healthy lifestyle, physicians recommend doing moderate physical activity for at least 150 minutes per week.

Walking, biking and swimming are all excellent choices, as is any exercise that is easy on the joints but still raises your heart rate and uses your muscles.

Even if you don’t have gout, regular exercise is good for you, and it can reduce your risk for many other chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and other inflammatory disorders.

 

Use Celery Seed Extract

Celery seed extract or celery juice can decrease the build-up of uric acid in your body, so it can be used to treat gout.

The antioxidants in celery help reduce inflammation and lower symptoms like joint pain.

Celery’s antioxidants also help treat skin disorders, kidney infections, irritable bowel syndrome, urinary tract infections, and other inflammatory diseases.

Celery seed extract is available as a supplement, or you can drink celery juice to get the same benefits.

 

Try Nettles

Nettles are a perennial flowering plant that’s native to many parts of the world, and they’ve been used in herbal medicine to treat all types of disorders for centuries.

Nettles contain powerful anti-inflammatories, and drinking nettle tea or taking nettle supplements can help reduce your gout symptoms.

 

Drink Black Cherry Juice

Like celery, cherry juice can reduce the build-up of uric acid, as well as inflammation from gout.

Using cherry extract or drinking black cherry juice can reduce gout flare-ups by as much as 35% on their own.

When combined with other treatments. they can reduce flare-ups even more (5).

If you have frequent gout flare-ups, try adding this simple, delicious treatment to your diet.

 

Take Magnesium

Individuals with a magnesium deficiency are more prone to developing gout.

Magnesium is alkaline, which means it can reduce the formation of uric acid.

If you’ve never had gout before and start experiencing symptoms, consider taking a magnesium supplement or eating a diet that includes more magnesium-rich foods, to see if it helps reduce your symptoms.

The top sources of natural magnesium are spinach, Swiss chard, mung beans, black beans, potatoes, almonds, and cashews.

These foods all contain at least one-fourth of the recommended daily allowance of magnesium.

 

Supplement with Fish Oil

Fish oil reduces the inflammation and pain associated with different types of arthritis.

Clinical studies examined the impact of fish oil on arthritis symptoms.

Patients saw improvement in their arthritis (6).

Fish oil has also been shown to be as effective as NSAID pain relievers (such as ibuprofen) at treating arthritis pain.

For anyone who cannot take NSAIDs, fish oil offers a safer alternative to treating pain due to inflammation (7).

 

Eat Pineapple

Pineapple is not only delicious and healthy but also contains a powerful enzyme called bromelain.

It’s an excellent, natural treatment for arthritis, asthma, indigestion, sinus infections, and inflamed connective tissue and muscles.

Eating pineapple each day can have positive effects on your gout symptoms.

By naturally treating your gout symptoms, you can eliminate or greatly reduce your symptoms or flare-ups.

Once you have your gout under control, you want to prevent future flare-ups from occurring.

 

Preventing Future Problems

Making the recommended changes to your diet and lifestyle can greatly reduce the likelihood of a gout flare-up in the future.

Once you control the intake of compounds that produce uric acid in your diet, lower your weight, and limit your exposure to inflammatory agents, your gout will have less of a reason to flare up in the future.

Individuals with gout are also more likely to suffer from kidney stones, as they’re also caused by chronically high levels of uric acid.

In addition, uric acid can form deposits under the skin, known as tophi.

If you experience gout, kidney stones, or tophi, you can reduce your flare-ups or recurrences by following the recommendations for diet and exercise, which will significantly lower your uric acid levels.

 

Precautions

Gout is a type of arthritis that occurs when you have too much uric acid in your body.

This acid forms crystals in your joints, which causes inflammation, pain, redness, and swelling.

Gout pain can be very intense.

If you experience unexpectedly sharp pain in one of your joints, you may want to talk with your doctor about gout.

But if your pain is occurring in more than one joint, you probably don’t have gout.

Rather, you have another form of arthritis or inflammatory disorder.

Gout is conventionally treated by using medications to lower inflammation and reduce pain, but they don’t treat the underlying cause of gout.

Medications may even have adverse side effects.

Changing your diet and lifestyle are effective strategies for managing gout, which could result in lowering the severity and frequency of flare-ups.

A diet rich in whole foods can also reduce gout symptoms, especially if they’re high in fiber and low in sugar, carbohydrates, and salt.

It’s also important to eliminate sources of purines in your diet, which lead to the production of uric acid in your body.

Meat, fish, and seafood are the leading sources of purines in food, so eliminating or reducing your consumption of these foods can greatly reduce your gout symptoms.

The diet and lifestyle changes recommended for treating gout are very similar to those recommended for improving heart health, so you may notice additional health benefits when you make changes to treat your gout.

Treating gout does not have to be a lifetime battle.

Once you control your weight and make healthier choices in your diet and lifestyle, you may see your gout completely disappear.

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