Gout is a form of arthritis that can be very painful. Gout attacks can become chronic if it is not managed properly. While diet cannot cure gout, eliminating trigger foods and increasing intake of healthier choices such as prune juice can help. After being diagnosed with gout, you and your physician can work together to find the best dietary approach based on your personal medical history.
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When your body breaks down substances called purines, which are found in some types of food, a byproduct called uric acid is created. Uric acid is taken to your kidneys for elimination through urination. When you have gout, the uric acid forms needle-like crystals that settle in your joints and soft tissues. These crystal deposits can cause pain, swelling and stiffness. While gout can affect any area of the body, it most commonly attacks the big toe.
Gout Risk Factors
The exact reasons that some people develop gout and others do not are not clearly understood. However, taking medications that increase uric acid levels and eating a diet rich in high purine foods can both trigger gout attacks. Obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol levels, diabetes and kidney disease also increase the risk, notes the American College of Rheumatology. In some cases, eating a low purine diet is enough; however, some people need medication to lower uric acid levels and manage their symptoms.
To help manage gout the Arthritis Foundation recommends a diet that contains low purine foods, which includes all fruits such as prunes and prune juice. However, it is best to consume sugar in moderation, so look for unsweetened varieties of prune juice. Along with prune juice, your diet should be rich in a wide variety of vegetables except for cauliflower, asparagus, mushrooms and spinach. Low fat dairy and refined grains should also be part of your daily diet. Since each case is different, you may need to keep a food and symptom diary for a few weeks to identify your personal trigger foods.
When you have gout, it is also important to consume at least eight to 12 cups of fluid every day to help reduce kidney stone formation, according to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Drinking prune juice can help you meet not only that goal but also the general recommendation to get two to four servings of fruit each day. For prunes, a serving is one medium-size prune or 3/4 cup prune juice. In general, prunes are part of a healthy diet as they are low in fat, cholesterol and calories and they are a source of fiber and other nutrients the body needs. While prune juice is a healthy option; keep in mind that obesity can make gout worse, so you need to look for low calorie versions.