Client: Adam, 32, an account manager and passionate cyclist.
The Problem: Gout in his big toe, which he was embarrassed to reveal.
Gout is a very common type of arthritis that occurs when there is too much uric acid in the blood tissues and urine. Adam assumed his young age made him immune to such health issues and he was shocked and baffled when his doctor gave him the diagnosis. Approximately 90 percent of people who suffer from gout are male.
It was once considered a “rich man’s disease” because it’s associated with too much rich food and alcohol, both of which Adam indulged in often. He was a passionate cyclist and due to his lean frame assumed, yet again, that his strong cardiovascular system meant he would have a perfect bill of health.
Gout can be quite painful because it’s literally crystallized uric acid that takes on the shape of a needle and jabs its way into the joints. Uric acid is the end product of the metabolism of a class of chemicals known as purines (found in food). It is also a powerful antioxidant, almost as effective as vitamin C. It is only when levels become abnormally elevated that it becomes a problem.
Solution after the jump.
My first inclination was to put Adam on a detox, but based on his lifestyle I knew this wasn’t something he would adapt well to as he had client dinners at least two times per week. I didn’t want to set him up for failure. So we agreed that he would take baby steps. Here is what he decided to focus on:
- Avoid purine rich foods including anchovies (he loved these on his pizza, but promised to avoid), shellfish, asparagus, meat gravies and broths, mussels, sardines, mushrooms and sweetbreads.
- Limit consumption of alcohol as it increases both the production of uric acid and reduces uric acid elimination.
- Avoid all fried foods, roasted nuts and any oil that has been subjected to heat and possibly turned rancid. When heated oils become rancid, the fats quickly destroy vitamin E (a potent antioxidant), resulting in the body releasing uric acid.
- When a painful gout attack occurs, eat more foods that neutralize uric acid including: blueberries, cherries and strawberries.
- Eat more alfalfa sprouts, on salads or in sandwiches or take an alfalfa supplement of at least 2,000-3,000 mg daily. It is a good source of minerals that help to reduce serum uric acid.
- For immediate relief, mix cayenne powder with enough wintergreen oil to make a paste and apply it to the big toe to lower inflammation and pain.
Adam’s follow up appointment made me very joyous! He had adopted all the lifestyle changes above and was feeling better than ever before. He even said he felt stronger on his bike. Amazing how a few small tweaks can make a huge difference.
Joy McCarthy, Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Health Coach of Joyous Health, loves to inspire others to eat well and live well. Joy is the resident holistic nutritionist at 889 Yonge, a Yoga & Holistic Lifestyle Spa in Toronto.
Please note: This advice is not meant to treat or diagnose, please consult a certified practitioner or your family doctor for any serious health issues.