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Gout and the Holidays

Turkey, gravy, red velvet cake, and a chilled glass of bubbly, the culinary temptations of the holiday season can be hard to resist. But anyone who has gout must be vigilant in limiting indulgences that can trigger painful flare-ups.

The same dietary parameters observed throughout the year – such as avoiding organ meat, red meat, and shellfish – can be extra challenging, but are still imperative. Gout, which affects over 8 million adults (the majority men) in this country, is a rheumatic disease due to the accumulation of uric acid crystals in joints, which leads to inflammation and intense pain. The body produces uric acid when it breaks down “purines.” Purines are substances found naturally in the body, as well as, in certain foods, especially meats, poultry, beer, and food and beverages that contain high fructose corn syrup.

When holiday menus entice, follow these 7 tips to avoid a flare-up:

Please pass the potatoes. Potatoes are among the holiday delights that you can eat worry-free. They, along with other vitamin C-rich foods (which includes most vegetables), nuts, and non-caffeinated drinks, are all okay.

Drinks lots of water. Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine studied the association between the amount of water consumed by 535 gout patients who’d experienced a gout attack within a year of the study. Their findings: participants who drank at least eight 12 ounce glasses of water a day experienced a 48% reduction in gout attacks, versus those who drank just one or less glasses of water a day.

Bag the beer. All alcohol makes it more difficult for your kidneys to eliminate uric acid, but beer is the worst culprit, followed by hard liquor. We recommend avoiding all alcohol but if you’re going to have a drink, red wine is likely to be the least problematic.

Nix high fructose corn syrup. High fructose corn syrup, common in soft drinks, juice drinks and processed foods, is a major gout trigger. Read labels before eating processed foods or drinking processed beverages to avoid this ingredient.

Skip the salt. Salt itself is not problematic. However, it can promote dehydration which in turn can increase the level of uric acid in your body.

Fill prescriptions. Make sure to keep your prescriptions filled so you’re not caught empty-handed in the event of a flare-up during the holidays when pharmacies may have limited hours.

• Call us. If you experience sudden intense pain in a joint, call our office immediately. Left untreated, gout can become chronic and cause permanent joint damage. We are always here to help.

Central Massachusetts Podiatry

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