Gout is a common, yet painful condition that causes stiffness in the joints, swelling and intense pain. It is considered a type of arthritis and can flare up rapidly and then return over and over again. This recurrence of the condition will often harm the inflamed tissues and cause even more intense pain. Therefore, getting gout under control is of paramount importance for anyone who has experienced it and for anyone who suffers from this life-impacting condition. Thankfully, research has come to light that implies a new dietary approach could provide some hope for gout suffers. Read on to learn more about the effect of the DASH diet on the condition of gout.
What is Gout?
Gout is a type of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid in the bloodstream. It often develops in the foot, especially the big toe area, although it can manifest in other parts of the body as well. Gout can make walking and standing very painful and is especially common in diabetics and the obese.
What Causes Gout?
People typically get gout because of a poor diet. Genetic predisposition is also a factor. The children of parents who have had gout frequently have a chance of developing it themselves.
Gout Symptoms and Treatments
Gout can easily be identified by redness and inflammation of the big toe and the surrounding areas of the foot. Other symptoms include extreme fatigue, joint pain, and running high fevers. Sometimes corticosteroid drugs can be prescribed to treat gout, but the best way to combat this disease is to get more exercise and eat a better diet.
What is the DASH Diet?
Before delving deeper into the topic of the impact a diet can have on gout, it’s important to first define the DASH diet. DASH is an acronym that stands for:
It is obviously designed for those suffering from hypertension. It is based upon consumption of low-fat dairy products, whole grains, vegetables, and fresh fruits. The DASH diet is believed to lower the serum uric acid (SUA) levels in the body. Since gout is directly tied to SUA levels, many believe the DASH diet can be one tool used to combat the condition.
What Correlation Exists Between Gout and Uric Acid Levels?
When the body produces excess uric acid levels, crystals form around the joints. This, is in effect, is one of the underlying causes of gout. Certain foods, such as some seafood, alcohol, and red meat, are converted by the body into uric acid and are naturally high in purines. Therefore, when a patient is diagnosed with gout, they are often advised to avoid foods with high purine levels.
What The DASH Diet Looks Like
Some doctors advise patients with gout to embrace the DASH diet. The following is a specific breakdown of the DASH diet, based on a 2,000 calorie version:
- Grains: Between six and eight servings daily, mostly whole grain variety.
- Vegetables: Between four and five servings daily, either frozen or fresh vegetables are applicable.
- Fruits: Between four and five servings daily, make sure to consume the edible skins as they contain additional fiber and nutrients.
- Dairy: Between two and three servings daily, aim for either fat-free or low-fat varieties.
- Fish, Poultry, Lean Meat: A max six servings daily. Remove the fat and skin and opt for grilled meat over fried.
- Oils and Fats: Between two and three servings daily, aim for less than 30% of a daily calorie allotment.
- Sweets: Less than five servings weekly, and keep a sharp eye on portion sizes.
The breakdown of the DASH diet meets the recommended levels of sodium intake (less than 2,300 mg daily), recommended by the Dietary Guidelines of Americans. There is also a low sodium version of the DASH diet that reduces sodium intake to up to 1,500 mg daily.
Does it Really Work, What Are The Scientific Results?
While the DASH diet sounds effective, anyone suffering from gout wants to know if it will in fact work. A recent study conducted by a team comprised of members of Arthritis Research Canada and Harvard Medical School, found the DASH diet to be effective when used to reduce the risk of developing gout. According to the results of the team’s study, the group of male subjects who followed a DASH diet was found to have a lower risk of gout development when compared to those who were following a Western diet. Therefore, the study effectively proved the DASH diet as a good way to reduce the risk of gout development.
What Does All This Mean, Does The DASH Diet Really Work to TREAT Gout?
The study mentioned above obviously found the DASH diet to reduce a person’s risk of developing gout; however, it didn’t examine the effectiveness of the diet for individuals who already have a painful condition. An article written by Herbert S. B. Baraf, MD, FACP, MACR of Arthritis and Rheumatism Associates, PC, looked at the diet as a possible treatment. This article outlined the fact that yes, the DASH diet can help reduce uric acid elevation, by about 1.3 mg. However, a podiatrist or other medical professional typically want to lower this number by much more than the diet will produce. When compared with medication that is designed to lower uric acid deposits, even the best diets, including the DASH diet, simply isn’t’ as effective at treating gout with medication.
Conclusion: Is The DASH Diet Effective at Treating Gout or Not?
Another study outlined on MDedge concluded that the DASH diet was a good first step at treating gout, especially if uric acid levels were only moderately high. However, if gout is more severe, or if uric acid levels are substantially elevated, patients might require more help than a change in diet can provide. They might require the use of medication instead, or some combination of both dietary changes and medication. Each person’s specific gout condition is different and requires a professional diagnosis and treatment plan. Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all treatment plan for gout, but thankfully, there is hope for each and every person.
Your Next Step
If you are suffering from the painful condition of gout, you want relief. Thankfully, the podiatrist and other medical professionals at Red Mountain Footcare are ready to help you find an effective treatment for your condition. It could be the DASH diet that will help you overcome your symptoms or perhaps, you will need medication or both. Either way, the professionals at our office will help you get relief. Contact us at Red Mountain Footcare today to learn more.