A ‘Cherry’ Effective Solution
The realization that cherries could lower uric acid levels and alleviate gout actually came about in the early 1950s. Since then, further research has been conducted to examine how gout responds to the consumption of cherries or cherry products, with promising results.
In the most recent study out of Boston University, researchers analyzed 633 gout patients, with an average age of 54, who completed in-depth food and lifestyle questionnaires. Of these participants, 224 reported eating fresh cherries, 15 took cherry extract, and 33 used both.
The researchers discovered that the intake of fresh cherries over a two-day period was associated with a 35 percent lower risk of gout attacks compared with no cherry intake. They also found that the risk of gout attacks tended to decrease with higher consumption — up to three servings over two days — but anything over those three servings did not appear to provide better protection. (In this case, a serving of cherries equaled about 1/2 cup, or 10-12 cherries.)
The cherry extract had an even greater protective effect — a 45 percent lower risk of gout attacks. And the intake of both fresh cherries and the extract combined reduced the risk of gout attacks by 37 percent.See: http://www.peakhealthadvocate.com/4522/cherry-for-gout/?sid=WP7617&cp=PKHL&ct=20130905&cc=eletter&en=4183131
What is the treatment for gout?
There are two key concepts essential to treating gout. First, it is critical to stop the acute inflammation of joints affected by gouty arthritis. Second, it is important to address the long-term management of the disease in order to prevent future gouty arthritis attacks and shrink gouty tophi crystal deposits in the tissues.
The treatment of an acute attack of gouty arthritis involves measures and medications that reduce inflammation. Preventing future acute gout attacks is equally as important as treating the acute arthritis. Prevention of acute gout involves maintaining adequate fluid intake, weight reduction, dietary changes, reduction in alcohol consumption, and medications to lower the uric acid level in the blood (reduce hyperuricemia).
Maintaining adequate fluid intake helps prevent acute gout attacks. Adequate fluid intake also decreases the risk of kidney stone formation in patients with gout. Alcohol is known to have diuretic effects that can contribute to dehydration and precipitate acute gout attacks. Alcohol can also affect uric acid metabolism to cause hyperuricemia. Therefore, alcohol has two major effects that worsen gout by impeding (slowing down) the excretion of uric acid from the kidneys as well as by causing dehydration, both of which contribute to the precipitation of uric acid crystals in the joints.
Dietary changes can help reduce uric acid levels in the blood. Since purine chemicals are converted by the body into uric acid, purine-rich foods are avoided. Examples of foods rich in purines include shellfish and organ meats such as liver, brains, kidneys, and sweetbreads. Researchers have reported, in general, that meat or seafood consumption increases the risk of gout attacks, while dairy food consumption seemed to reduce the risk. Protein intake or purine-rich vegetable consumption was not associated with an increased risk of gout. Total alcohol intake was strongly associated with an increased risk of gout (beer and liquor were particularly strong factors). Fructose from the corn syrup in soft drinks also increases the risk of gout. It should be noted that even the best diet that avoids foods and beverages that increase the risk of gout will only lower blood uric acid level by 1 mg/dL.
Weight reduction can be helpful in lowering the risk of recurrent attacks of gout. This is best accomplished by reducing dietary fat and calorie intake, combined with a regular aerobic exercise program.
Reviewed by Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD on 5/31/2012
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