Arthritis is often thought of as something elderly people experience. Whereas it’s true that the cartilage protecting your joints wears down in time and leads to stiffness, there is an arthritic condition that is affected by dietary choices. The more you know about gout, though, the more you can do to prevent its painful attacks.
An Introduction to Gout
If you experience stiffness, swelling, and burning pain in the metatarsophalangeal joint (MTPJ) at the base of your big toe, right where it meets the foot, you may have the form of arthritis known as gout. This arthritic condition flares up periodically (typically at night) and then may go into submission for an extended time before it strikes again. The dormant periods between attacks can last anywhere from months to years.
Why Gout Happens
Any arthritic condition is marked by painful inflammation and stiffness in joints. In the case of gout, this pain and stiffness is produced by hyperuricemia – a condition of excessive uric acid in the blood. When your body breaks down a substance known as purines, uric acid is one of the byproducts. Purines are found in many foods contained in the average diet.
It is important to note that uric acid in your blood stream does not actually become an issue until it has crystalized. When the hard, uric acid crystals develop in your joints, especially the MTPJ of your big toe, you will likely have discomfort, pain, and subsequent attacks.
A major component of managing the condition is to keep a careful eye on your diet. As we noted, foods with a high purine content break down into uric acid, which can then trigger a painful attack. With this being the case, you should make an effort to avoid or limit your intake of:
- Animal protein – Restricting the amount of meat you eat during the course of a day to 4-6 total ounces will certainly help reduce your risk, but you are better off simply avoiding it altogether.
- Refined carbohydrates – There are a multitude of reasons to avoid foods like cake, candy, and white breads, but this is another that you can add to that list. These refined carbohydrates increase levels of uric acid, in addition to the other detrimental effects they can have on your body.
- Alcohol – We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but alcohol consumption interferes with your body’s ability to flush out uric acid through the kidneys. Since it is not properly expelled in urine, levels of uric acid in your bloodstream are increased (and so is your risk of an attack).
It may seem like you have a lot of restrictions on your diet, but focus on the healthy foods that you can eat and use them as the basis for delicious, safe meals.
The best way to tackle this condition is through healthy lifestyle decisions. The previously-mentioned foods should be avoided, of course, but also focus on incorporating more veggies, fruits, legumes, beans, whole grains, and fat-free (or at least low-fat) dairy into your diet. Strive to maintain a healthy bodyweight and make exercise a regular component in your weekly schedule. These steps are instrumental in managing your condition, but Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists can also assist by prescribing various medications to reduce uric acid levels.
When it comes to preventing this arthritic condition, start with your diet. The same guidelines of healthy eating that can improve symptoms—whole grains, vegetables, legumes, etc.—will also decrease your odds of developing an issue in the first place. We must note that you have to be careful and not veer towards an overly low-calorie diet, since this might actually trigger an attack.
Effective Gout Care in Austin, TX
When you need the best in foot or ankle care—including for conditions like gout—Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists is here for you. Our caring, professional staff is ready to help assist you back to health, so contact our Austin, TX office today. Simply give us a call at (512) 328-8900 or use our online form to schedule your appointment.
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