The foods you eat can affect the levels of different compounds in your bloodstream. In some cases, your diet can affect your risk of developing certain conditions, such as gout, an extremely painful form of arthritis. One way of preventing gout flareups is to avoid foods that cause the production of uric acid, and to instead eat a diet heavy in alkalizing foods, which can help neutralize excess acid in the body.
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Gout is a form of arthritis that can cause intense pain in the joints. Gout characteristically affects the joint of the big toe, and can cause excruciating pain which can be triggered by even very slight pressure. If you have gout, the affected joints will also be swollen and warm to the touch, and the symptoms may be worse at night.
Gout is caused by an excess of uric acid. When uric acid levels in the blood get too high, the uric acid can form small crystals in the joints, which results in intense inflammation. The inflammation is responsible for the pain, warmth and swelling associated with gout. Foods high in a compound known as purines are able to increase uric acid production in the body, resulting in gout.
Gout Diet and Acid
One of the tenets of a diet to treat gout is to avoid purine-rich foods. These include many different organ meats, such as liver, sweetbreads and kidneys, and certain kinds of fish. Not only do these meats contain high levels of purines, they are also identified as acid-producing foods, suggesting that there is a link between acidic foods and gout.
The theory behind an alkaline diet for gout is that alkaline foods can help neutralize the uric acid in the body, thus reducing the risk of uric acid crystals accumulating in the joints. Most vegetables are classified as alkaline, including such green vegetables as broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts and asparagus. Fruits are also alkaline, including citrus fruits, because they stimulate the production of alkaline chemicals by the body. Because uric acid is directly responsible for gout, neutralizing the acid in the body can help treat gout flareups and prevent gout attacks.
Gout pain is often incapacitating. Although a proper diet can help relieve some symptoms of gout, patients experiencing an acute gout episode may need to seek more immediate treatment from their doctor, rather than waiting for the benefits of an alkaline diet to occur. In these cases, patients may need to take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, prescription pain killers and colchicine, MedLinePlus notes. Injected corticosteroids can also be very effective at relieving the pain and inflammation caused by gout until the excess uric acid has been neutralized.