Gout is a painful inflammatory condition affecting small joints, particularly the big toe. Gout was called the “rich man’s disease” for generations because it usually affected men who over-indulged in expensive foods, such as organ meats, steak, mushrooms and red wine. The logical prevention for gout it to reduce or eliminate such foods from your diet, although if you are currently suffering from an acute bout then watermelon may provide relief. Watermelon is an especially alkaline fruit with high water content, which are important factors in dissolving and flushing out the sharp crystals that cause the pain.
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According to the “Professional Guide to Diseases,” 90 percent of gout attacks occur in men, typically between the ages of 40 and 50 years. The onset of the intense pain usually begins at night as the uric acid in the blood precipitate out into sharp crystals that are deposited in joints, often the largest knuckle of the big toe. Uric acid is a break-down product of purines, which are compounds found in beef, turkey, mushrooms, red wine, beer and some other foods. Once deposited, the sharp crystals damage connective tissue and illicit an inflammatory reaction from your body. A gouty toe can be sensitive enough that just the weight of a bed sheet can cause discomfort.
Watermelon is considered one of the most alkalizing fruits able to neutralize acidity within your bloodstream and other tissues, as cited in “Biochemistry of Human Nutrition." Watermelon is a good source of vitamins A and C and potassium, and also contains many B-vitamins, iron, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous in traces. Vitamin C displays antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and is needed to repair damaged connective tissue, such as ligaments and cartilage. Further, watermelon is rich in other antioxidants called carotenoids, particularly lycopene, beta-carotene, lutein and neurosporene. Antioxidants eliminate free-radicals and reduce potential damage in your tissues. In terms of composition, at least 65 percent of watermelon by weight is water, according to “Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism."
Flushing-Out Uric Acid
A common strategy in dealing with gout is to drink lots of water, at least ten glasses daily, which helps to flush uric acid out of your joints and blood so it can be excreted. Watermelon is mostly water and is very useful in this regard, especially if you are not a big water drinker. Watermelon also flushes out the kidneys, which is important because excessive uric acid forms kidney stones.
Neutralizing Uric Acid
Watermelon is a very alkaline food that raises the pH of fluid and tissues in your body and helps to prevent uric acid from precipitating out into sharp crystals, according to “Human Biochemistry and Disease." Watermelon also contains vitamin C, potassium and calcium, which have neutralizing affects on uric acid.
Many of the nutrients within watermelon contribute to the healing of tissues damaged by the sharp gout crystals. Vitamin C, in particular, is required to make collagen, which is a primary component of the cartilage within your joints and the ligaments and tendons surrounding them, as cited in “Vitamins: Fundamental Aspects in Nutrition and Health." Calcium and magnesium is useful in healing bones that are affected by the acidity of uric acid.
- “Professional Guide to Diseases: Ninth Edition”; Springhouse Publishing; 2009
- “Biochemistry of Human Nutrition”; George Gropper; 2000
- “Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism: 5th Edition”; Sareen S. Gropper and Jack L. Smith; 2009
- “Human Biochemistry and Disease”; Gerald Litwack; 2008
- “Vitamins: Fundamental Aspects in Nutrition and Health”; G. Combs; 2008