Dealing with Gout (AKA: Gouty arthritis)

       Gout is an inflammatory problem that usually manifests itself in a big toe but can spread to the foot, ankle and heel.  Gout can be very painful.  Gout occurs as the result of elevated uric acid levels in the body producing sodium based crystals in joint tissue.  When these crystals are present, the immune system attacks them resulting in the occurrence of inflammation and much pain.  

       Uric acid is a breakdown product of purines. Purines are nitrogen-containing molecules called nitrogenous bases. These nitrogenous bases are used by the body to make the genetic material of all living organisms. They are an essential part of cellular DNA.  Purines are of vital importance to the proper function of the cardiovascular and digestive systems.  Many cells have receptor sites for purines, thus showing their importance to our health.

       Our bodies make purines and they are also found throughout the food supply.  Uric acid is the end product in the body’s metabolism of purines and this acid is generally eliminated through the urine although the body can recycle it.  Uric acid has its own benefit in the body as it acts as an antioxidant to protect against free radical damage.

       Elevated Uric acid levels can occur when the kidneys are not efficiently eliminating it.  Elevated levels can also result from the body making too much purine or too much purine coming from the diet.  Most foods contain around ten to fifteen milligrams of purines per a serving of one-half cup of such food. The average daily diet for an adult in the U.S. contains approximately 600-1,000 milligrams of purines. 

       One's intake of dietary purines can be much higher if you are consuming organ meats such as liver and certain kinds of fish such as sardines, both of which are high in purines. Brewer's Yeast is sometimes used as a nutritional supplement because of its wide range of amino acids, minerals and B Vitamins. Unfortunately, Brewer's Yeast is also very high in purines.  Alcohol increases uric acid production and reduces uric acid excretion by the kidneys.  Beer is high in purines. Go to for a list of foods and their purine content. 

       If you are experiencing gout on a regular basis, you may want to have a blood test to determine level of kidney function since it is the kidneys that regulate uric acids levels.  With occasional gout, a low purine diet may be necessary in order to reduce uric acid. Supplemental Vitamin C has been found to be helpful in protecting against gout. 

       Consuming 100% tart cherry juice and other berries, dark red in color, is an effective way to help reduce uric acid levels.  Their content of the flavonoids anthrocyanidins and proanthocyandins appear to be the chemical compounds that are responsible for their uric acid lowering ability and their ability to reduce inflammation. 

       In a study reported in The Journal Arthritis & Rheumatism, 633 patients with confirmed gout ate one-half cup of cherries or took a cherry based extract for several days. It was found that they were 35% less likely to have a subsequent gout attack.  As these patients ate more cherries, their risk of a subsequent gout attack was reduced by fifty percent. Other studies have shown a significant drop in uric acid levels with regular consumption of cherries.

       If you are going to drink cherry juice to reduce uric acid levels, don’t use the standard commercial brands where sugar and other juices are often added.  At Milk ‘N Honey we carry a 100% tart cherry juice concentrate that has proven to be very effective in reducing inflammation associated with gout, arthritis and other inflammatory problems.  We also have cherry juice concentrate in capsules.  In addition, we carry a product called “Total Cleanse (Uric Acid)” from the nutrition company Solaray.  This product has an ingredient mix designed to reduce uric acid levels and decrease inflammation.