Uric acid. Who knew that a relatively simple sounding substance could cause such pain and frustration in nearly 8 million Americans? For those individuals suffering from gout, uric acid is a curse word. That’s because as this substance builds up in the body, it deposits itself near joints in the form of needle-like crystals. The results are pain, swelling, and stiffness commonly associated with gout attacks.

How can individuals prevent gout and ward off flare-ups? Use these five simple tips below to limit uric acid in your body and lessen the intensity and frequency of gout flare-ups.

1. Maintain A Healthy Weight

Being overweight or obese is a serious risk factor for gout. Several scientific studies have drawn this link. In fact, the rise in obesity in America runs in direct accordance with a dramatic rise in the incidence of gout. If you’re a gout sufferer and you’re set on losing weight, be careful. Sudden weight loss (more than two pounds per week) can actually cause an increase in uric acid levels and may set off a gout attack.

2. Limit Your Consumption of Beer

Don’t shoot the messenger!  A 12-year study showed that drinking beer dramatically increased the risk of gout. This is likely because beer contains a high level of purines (a substance that is broken down into uric acid in the body) and because beer interferes with the excretion process of uric acid.

3. Drink Plenty of Fluids

Instead of beer, drink more water.  Dehydration isn’t good for any part of the body, but it can be especially hard on the kidneys. Without proper fluid intake, the kidneys can’t effectively clear uric acid. Plus, when water content is low, the body is easily saturated with the existing uric acid. Many experts recommend drinking eight to 16 glasses of fluids per day. Be sure to stay clear of sugary juices, alcohol, and sweetened soda. Those can actually trigger a gout attack.

4. Avoid Purine-Rich Foods

Eating purine-rich foods will result in the highest increase of uric acid in the body. Gout sufferers should completely eliminate organ foods (liver, heart, kidney, etc.) and specific seafood (herring, sardines, etc.) from their diets. They should also limit the intake of red meats, pork, and other seafood.

5. If Possible, Avoid Diuretic Medications

Many patients with hypertension are prescribed medications to control their blood pressure. Often times, those prescriptions are for thiazide diuretics. These medications are known to raise uric acid levels and can lead to gout in some patients. Some individuals may need to be on these medications no matter what, but some patients may be able to more comfortably control their blood pressure with diet and exercise.  Be sure to remind your physician about your gouty condition if they are considering placing you on a diuretic therapy.

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