Activate your Defense against This "First-World" Malady
photo: uric acid crystals causing painful gout attack
"First-world" health problems are maladies that existed mostly in text books until the last 30-40 years. Health problems such as diabetes type II, irritable bowel syndrome including colitis and Crohn's Disease, and certain types of arthritis were rarely seen. Now, its estimated that more than half of the population over 25 in countries such as the U.S., Canada, Australia, and the U.K. has suffered from one of these health issues.
One such "first-world" arthritis was once commonly called the "disease of kings" - known as Gout. Because in the past, gout primarily afflicted very affluent men. Then it evolved to impact men, in part because of unhealthy lifestyle, but also because men have higher levels of uric acid in their system. Nowadays gout strikes both men and women.
What Is Gout?
Gout is a painful form, as in red-hot poker stuck into your joint, of inflammatory arthritis. Aside from tear-inducing pain symptoms include swelling, redness and joint inflammation. In many cases, only one joint is affected –usually the the big toe – but other joints, including the elbows, knees and ankles, can be affected. Gout is caused by excessive uric acid that crystalize in your joints. Essentially, gout occurs when the metabolic process that controls the amount of uric acid in your blood breaks down.
Gout is more prevalent among men, who usually have higher uric acid levels in their blood than women. But this doesn't mean women are exempt from this disease – it can actually affect them after menopause. Once a woman reaches menopause, her body drastically cuts its production of the hormone estrogen, which helps the kidneys excrete uric acid. Without enough estrogen, a woman's uric acid level begins to increase. And with the western diet of highly processed food and unhealthy lifestyles comes more incidents of gout for women and men.
By age 60, the number of cases of gout in women and men are nearly equal.
Pharmaceuticals companies earn billions of dollars annually peddling drugs that treat "gout" and arthritis such as NSAIDs, Colchicine, and corticosteroids. The bad news is that there's measly evidence that these drugs work. In fact, the risks far outweigh the benefits. These drugs come with some nasty side effects.
Gout: The Facts
Gout is a complex disorder that's become prevalent in many “western” nations and is growing rapidly in Asia.
Gout used to be an uncommon disease known as "disease of kings." Not anymore.
Conventional medicine tells you that the only way to treat and relieve gout is to take drugs and painkillers, but an extensive amount of data on the efficacy of natural treatment says otherwise – there are natural ways to relieve, treat, and prevent this agonizing condition effectively by addressing the source. With no side effects.
Gout Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms of gout are generally acute – they can strike without warning, often at night. The condition usually affects your big toe (podagra), but can occur in any joint in your body.
Here are some common gout symptoms:
- Severe pain in the joints of your ankles, hands, wrists, knees, and feet, especially your big toe. The affected areas may feel warm or hot.
- Nodules (tophi) in the elbows, hands, or ears.
- Red, tender, and swollen joints.
- Red or purplish skin (Many patients mistake this for an infection).
- Less flexibility and limited movement in the affected joints.
Acute gout symptoms usually go away within three to 10 days, and the next attack may not occur for months or even years. But, beware – if you fail to address this illness, you may be subjected to more gout attacks. The more gout flare-ups you experience, the more severe and longer they will become.
Having recurrent gout attacks can also inflict serious damage on your joints and the surrounding areas. This is why you must treat your gout as soon as possible before it causes irreversible harm on your body. There are natural, drug-free methods to help your body get rid of this ailment – using the strongest natural anti-inflammatories and natural joint lubricants.
The Links Between Gout and Your Uric Acid Levels
Gout can develop because of certain risk factors, such as unhealthy lifestyle habits and medical conditions. Genetics can also play a minor role in the development of this disease. If either or both of your parents had gout, you and your children have a high chance of acquiring it, too.
However, there's one significant factor that predisposes you to gout, and that's consuming unhealthy foods that wreak havoc on your uric acid levels. Gout attacks occur when you have hyperuricemia, a condition where you have high levels of uric acid in your blood.
Normally, uric acid dissolves in your blood and passes through your kidneys without causing any harm. However, your body may either create too much uric acid or fail to excrete enough of it in your urine. This results in uric acid buildup that forms needle-like crystals in your joints and the surrounding tissues, leading to intense pain.
Hyperuricemia usually has no symptoms, but if you fail to address it and your uric acid blood levels continue to rise, your risk of a gout flare-up increases as well. It can also put you at risk of health conditions that include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Kidney disease
- Heart disease
Being Overweight or Obese Puts You at a Higher Risk of Gout
Approximately half of all people with gout today are overweight.
Gout is an inflammatory condition – it's caused by inflammation in your body, which is linked to metabolic syndrome, a condition characterized by central obesity, hypertension, and disturbed glucose and insulin metabolism. According to medical data, there is a high prevalence of metabolic syndrome among gout sufferers.
What's more, excess body weight can exacerbate gout attacks. In fact, obesity can worsen any type of arthritis.
Unfortunately, conventional physicians ignore natural tactics such as lifestyle, food and natural topical treatments and instead recommend drugs as the "best" option for gout treatment – something that does not address the underlying cause.
Drugs vs Natural Remedies
Over the years, physicians have been prescribing gout patients with different pharmaceutical drugs, such as:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Corticotropin (adrenocorticotropic hormone)
Not only is there NO solid evidence that these drugs can actually cure gout, but they also expose you to many side effects, including extremely dangerous ones.
For example, NSAIDs, one of the most widely prescribed drugs today, are known to cause:
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and decreased appetite
- Dizziness, headaches, and drowsiness
- Fluid retention
- Kidney and/or liver failure
- Shortness of breath
- Prolonged bleeding after an injury
NSAIDs can also increase your risk of fatal stomach and intestinal reactions, which can occur at any time during your gout treatment and without any apparent symptoms. NSAIDs (except for low-dose aspirin) can also put you at a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
Gout drugs like allopurinol and colchicine work by decreasing crystal formation, lowering your uric acid levels, or blocking your body's natural inflammatory response. They also have very dangerous long-term effects, and since gout can be a lifelong condition, following conventional advice and taking these drugs for a very long time can potentially wreak havoc on your wellbeing.
Natural Remedies That Work
The good news is that there are natural anti-inflammatory remedies that can help alleviate gout symptoms quickly. Diet can be a critical part of the remedy. For example, bone broth concentrate, such as from Best of the Bone help you lose weight naturally, maintain a healthy uric acid balance and is anti-inflammatory. In fact, French researchers have found bone gelatin such as Best of the Bone to be useful in the treatment of a long list of diseases including:
- peptic ulcers,
- muscle diseases,
- infectious diseases,
- and cancer.
Babies had fewer digestive problems when gelatin was added to their milk.
Natural herbs and spices have also shown quick results in alleviating pain of gout including those found in The Herbal Doctor’s Solomon’s Joint and Muscle Salve such as cayenne, also known as capsaicin. Derived from dried hot peppers, it alleviates pain by depleting your body's supply of substance P, a chemical found in nerve cells, which transmits pain signals to your brain.
Here are just a few other holistic pain relief alternatives that are found in the Solomon’s Joint and Muscle Salve:
Boswellia (boswellin or "Indian frankincense"). It contains active anti-inflammatory ingredients that have been show to reduce pain.
Aloe vera: anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-biotic, anti-fungal. Studies have shown aloe vera treatment can improve joint flexibility, promote joint lubrication and inhibit painful joint stiffness.
Devil’s Claw: recently published double blind studies have shown that Devil's Claw can relieve pain from arthritis. It is also used to treat osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, bursitis, tendonitis and soft tissue pain.
Coconut Oil – anti-inflammatory properties as well as rich in essential fatty acids that is useful in combatting arthritic pain and acid build-up.
Solomon’s Seal Root Its properties reduce inflammation of affected tissues, restore fluids to bursa and synovial glands, increases lubrication in joint areas, especially those affected by osteoarthritis, and helps to decalcify joints.
Tumeric: one of nature’s most powerful anti-inflammatory (in studies its potency has surpassed many pharmaceutical anti-inflammatories)
These are wonderful natural remedies with anti-inflammatory properties that are ideal not only for gout, but also for chronic pain and other types of arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Gout Treatment Starts with Your Diet
The modern western diet, which is loaded with highly processed and nutritionally deficient foods, is the primary reason why gout cases are consistently on the rise today. Therefore, if you want to avoid or reverse this condition, you must be very cautious of what you eat.
The common belief is that eating high-purine foods causes gout attacks. Organ meats, anchovies, mushrooms, asparagus, and herring are some gout foods to avoid.
However, many people are not aware that there is another dietary culprit that wrecks your uric acid levels, putting you at high risk of gout: high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
Having chronically elevated blood sugar levels is the REAL underlying problem that causes the inflammation associated with gout, as well as the subsequent damage it inflicts on your body, specifically your joints. Even if you reduce your consumption of high-purine foods, you will still experience gout symptoms if you continue to ingest HFCS, which is mostly found in processed foods.
A study conducted by US and Canadian researchers found that consuming HFCS-containing soda is strongly associated with an increased risk of developing gout. They found that men who consumed two or more sodas or “sports” drinks per day had an 85 percent higher risk of gout than those who drank less than one a month. The risk also significantly increased in men who consumed five to six servings of soft drinks a week. Fruit juices also increased the risk.
But how does fructose specifically affect your uric acid levels? Fructose inhibits the excretion of uric acid, causing it to build up inside your body, which elevates your uric acid blood levels.
Uric acid is also a byproduct of fructose metabolism. Fructose is metabolized by your body differently from natural sugar, as it goes directly to your liver. When your liver metabolizes fructose, it produces numerous waste products and toxins, including a high amount of uric acid. In fact, fructose typically generates uric acid within minutes of ingestion!
Fructose has been linked to countless health problems and chronic diseases, including high cholesterol, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, and cancer. Fructose also converts to fat more readily than other types of sugar, making it a major risk factor for both diabetes and obesity – which, as previously discussed, may cause gout.
Thus, eliminating all types of sugar, especially HFCS, should be a major focus of your gout diet. Other gout foods to avoid are grains, including whole wheat varieties, as these also convert to sugar in your body.
Sodas and other sweetened beverages, including fruit juices and "healthy" sports drinks, should be avoided at all costs as these can aggravate or cause gout. Remember, an average 12-ounce can of soda contains 40 grams of sugar, at least half of which is fructose. Make pure and clean water your beverage of choice, as it will help remove excess uric acid from your body. As a standard recommendation, keep your total fructose consumption below 25 grams per day. However, for most people, such as those who are already at risk of gout and other diseases like diabetes, limiting fructose consumption to 15 grams or less is a recommended. This is because there are hidden sources of fructose in other foods that you may be eating.
Food manufacturers use HFCS because it's cheaper, sweeter than table sugar, and easier to blend. Sugar, as well as added salt, can also stabilize food ingredients, extending the shelf life of foods. This is why many supermarket foods, and even processed meats, now contain high levels of fructose.
Biochemist Russ Bianchi claims that in some processed products, HFCS is either intentionally mislabeled or uses deceptively legally noncompliant names, like:
- Glucose-fructose syrup/ glucose syrup/ iso glucose
- Dahlia syrup
- Tapioca syrup
- Crystalline fructose
- Fruit fructose
When buying any food, top naturopaths and doctors suggest you make sure to check the label and keep an eye out for these toxic ingredients. In addition, make sure that wholesome organic foods, such as fresh, locally- grown vegetables, raw dairy, and eggs, make up the bulk of your meals.
Avoiding Alcohol Is Crucial for Successful Gout Treatment
Alcohol is a strong risk factor for gout. In fact, people who have hypertension, coronary artery disease, and are prone to excessive alcohol consumption are often afflicted with this ailment. Alcohol can also raise your blood uric acid levels and may even initiate a gout attack.
Other Lifestyle Habits That Can Help Prevent Gout
Virtually any chronic disease can be avoided by practicing healthy lifestyle strategies. Add these health tips to your gout treatment protocol to help you manage or treat this condition effectively:
Limit processed foods and replace non-vegetable carbs with healthy fats. Processed foods are notoriously high in fructose and artificial additives and preservatives – avoid them at all costs. Meanwhile, replacing non-vegetable carbs with healthful fats helps optimize and normalize your insulin and leptin levels.
Some of the best sources of beneficial fats include coconuts, coconut oil, avocados, olives and olive oil, raw butter, and raw nuts like macadamias, walnuts, and pecans.
You should also get plenty of animal-based omega-3 fats, such as from krill oil, which have a profound impact on joint health, inflammation, and arthritis. Omega-3s can produce compounds called resolvins and protectins, which help control inflammation before it damages your tissues. Animal-based omega-3 fat krill oil in particular has been found to help combat inflammation-related disorders, including arthritis.
- Drink pure and clean water. Your blood, kidneys, and liver need water for detoxification, in order to eliminate toxins and waste products such as uric acid from your body.
- Get enough vitamin D from sun exposure.
- Manage your stress. Even the conservative Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that 85 percent of all disease has an emotional element. When you're stressed, your body releases the stress hormone cortisol, which puts your body in a "fight or flight" mode – your heart rate and blood flow increase, your lungs take in more oxygen, and parts of your immune system become temporarily suppressed, reducing your inflammatory response to pathogens and other foreign invaders.
However, when stress becomes chronic, your immune system becomes less sensitive to cortisol. Since inflammation is partly regulated by cortisol, the decreased sensitivity increases the inflammatory response, allowing inflammation to get out of control and cause chronic diseases. This is why employing effective stress management techniques is absolutely important if you want to maintain optimal health.
Get enough high-quality sleep. No amount of healthy food or exercise can counteractthe negative effects of poor sleeping habits. High-quality sleep is crucial to a healthy lifestyle, and without it, you can be exposed to many health ailments and diseases. Sleep deprivation also interferes with your growth hormone production, which leads to premature aging.
Most people require at least seven to eight hours of sleep every night, but sleep needs are highly individual and may also depend on your current state of health and stress levels.
Gout can be managed, treated, or prevented with the right lifestyle habits.
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