Gout is a very painful inflammatory condition of the joints, especially the big toe, caused by excessive levels of uric acid in the bloodstream. Uric acid precipitates into sharp uric acid crystals and becomes deposited in smaller, peripheral joints. A diet high in purines, found in meats, seafood, wine and beer, is the main cause of uric acid build-up in the blood. Apples and natural apple juice may help prevent uric acid crystals from precipitating out of the blood, but artificially sweetened apple juice may actually contribute to crystal formation and promote gouty symptoms. Consult with your doctor if you experience acute joint pain in your toes.
Gout is an arthritis-like condition characterized by joint inflammation, stiffness and severe tenderness. The big toe joint is often affected, but other joints such as the ankle, wrist, fingers and elbows can also be involved. In addition to sharp crystal deposition in joints, uric acid may also contribute to kidney stones and build-up as lumps under the skin called tophi, according to the “Textbook for Functional Medicine.” A gout attack can be triggered by alcohol or foods high in purines such as red meat, organ meats, shellfish, sardines, anchovies and mushrooms. Many gout attacks resolve after a few days without treatment, but they can also continue to occur for many months or years.
Apple Juice for Prevention
Apples have a reputation for resolving and preventing gout attacks, although no scientific studies support such claims. Fresh, raw apples are a good source of malic acid, which is thought to neutralize uric acid and prevent the precipitation of crystals, according to the book “Human Biochemistry." Apples also contain vitamin C, which strengthens and repairs collagen-rich connective tissues surrounding joints and minimizes the damage done by the sharp uric acid crystals. As such, fresh squeezed apple juice may be worth trying to combat gout attacks. Apple cider vinegar is an even richer source of malic and acetic acids, which can reduce the pain of inflamed joints by dissolving uric acid crystals.
Problems with Fructose
Although fresh apples and apple juice may help prevent gout attacks, commercially produced sweetened apple juice may contribute to the symptoms of gout. According to a study published in a 2008 edition of the “British Medical Journal,” the development of gout in healthy men is proportional to the consumption of sugar-sweetened soft drinks, specifically high-fructose ones. The researchers noted that commercially produced fruit juices rich in fructose, such as apple or orange juice, were also associated with a higher risk of gout.
Other Natural Remedies
Apple juice is not the most popular natural remedy for gout. More renowned natural remedies to prevent or treat gout include lemon juice, sour cherry juice, devil’s claw herb, alfalfa tonics and wheatgrass juice, although research is lacking. Talk to your doctor about all the possible treatments for gout, both conventional and herbal.
- Textbook for Functional Medicine; David S. Jones
- Human Biochemistry; Charles Dreiling
- British Medical Journal: Soft Drinks, Fructose Consumption, and the Risk of Gout in Men: Prospective Cohort Study