Nearly 10 million Americans suffer from gout, a type of arthritis that affects one or more joints and can lead to permanent disability if not managed. While gout tends to most commonly affect joints in the feet and ankles, it can develop in any joint, affecting daily activities and causing chronic pain.
Gout symptoms can be worse during flare-up periods. Learning how to avoid those flares can help you lead a more comfortable and more active lifestyle.
At Advanced Foot & Ankle Center, our team provides tailored gout treatment focused on each patient’s unique needs. In addition to medication and other therapies, lifestyle changes can help minimize flare-ups and symptoms, including the four simple changes listed below.
1. Watch your purine intake
Purines are chemical substances found in foods like:
- Red meats and organ meats
- Sugary foods, especially foods with lots of high-fructose corn syrup
- Prepackaged or processed foods
- Some seafood, including lobster, shrimp, tuna, sardines, and anchovies
Once consumed, purines are converted to another substance called uric acid.
Typically, excess uric acid is eliminated in your urine and stool. But if it builds up in your blood instead, it can lodge in your joints, forming hard, pointy clumps that cause inflammation, pain, and stiffness associated with gout.
High-purine foods are also linked with kidney disease, obesity, and other medical issues. Focusing on a diet high in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains reduces your risk of a gout attack while improving your health in other ways, too.
2. Limit alcohol
Alcohol consumption triggers gout attacks in a couple of ways. First, when you drink alcohol, your kidneys must work extra hard to get rid of that alcohol. That means they aren’t able to remove purines as efficiently, leaving them to build up in your bloodstream and eventually your joints.
Alcohol also contains high levels of purines, especially beer. Just one beer a day significantly increases the risk of having a gout attack.
3. Stay hydrated
Drinking plenty of water helps your kidneys flush out excess uric acid. That means there’s less risk of uric acid crystals collecting on your joints.
Water is a great way to stay hydrated, but if you’re not a fan of plain water, it’s perfectly fine to flavor it with some cucumber or fruit. In fact, many fresh fruits and vegetables contain lots of fluid that can count toward your daily hydration goal.
4. Manage your weight
If you’re carrying extra pounds, losing weight and taking steps to maintain a healthy weight may help reduce gout flare-ups. Weight loss reduces the amount of uric acid in your blood, which in turn decreases your risk of crystal formation in your joints.
Focusing on a healthy diet is one way to manage your weight, but you need to exercise regularly, too. Increasing physical activity can also help reduce future attacks, even if you’re not trying to lose weight.
Your next steps
Gout can be painful, but with a personalized management plan focused on your gout “triggers,” you can relieve your symptoms and reduce future flare-ups.
To learn how we can help, book an appointment online or over the phone at one of our six locations in Utah.