Gout Attack Prevention Could Be As Simple as a Bowl of Cherries: New Study Results (VIDEO)
Gout affects 8.3 million Americans
A new study from Boston University, to be published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism, has revealed good news for gout sufferers: If you eat about 30 cherries, you may be able to prevent another attack for two days.
As reported here by ABCNews, "About 30 pieces of the sweet fruit within 48 hours of a gout attack may cut the risk of recurrence of the painful arthritic condition by 35 percent."
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Gout currently affects at least 8.3 million adults in the United States. (And this may be a growing trend. The data showed gout sufferers in America as just 6.1 million two decades ago.)
This inflammatory arthritis occurs when uric acid crystals form in the joints, causing great pain and swelling. Often symptoms occur first in the toes, making it difficult to walk. Gout may affect the entire foot, even knees or ankles, and in some cases, the elbows and shoulders. (It occurs more often in men than women, particularly if obesity is a problem, but women after menopause are also at risk.)
The study's lead author Yuqing Zhang, professor of medicine and public health at Boston University, has said he believes this is the most convincing study to date, confirming the well-known rumors and anecdotal evidence of the gout-healing powers of cherries. Th researchers followed the habits and symptoms and kept track of 633 gout sufferers. Sometimes they ate cherries, sometimes drank liquids with cherry extract. Tart cherries. Sweet cherries. (35% ate fresh cherries, 2% took cherry extract, and 5% consumed both.) The study also kept track of 1,247 gout attacks over the one-year follow-up, 92% of which were in the joint at the base of the big toe.
High Uric Acid in Blood Stream to Blame: Uric acid - a waste product normally excreted by the kidneys - is one of the known culprits behind Gout. (Other contributing factors include obesity, hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, dehydration, alcohol intake, a high-protein diet and possibly side effects of certain medications such as diuretics. Genetics is thought to probably play a role.) But high uric acid in the blood is definitely to blame.
If excretion from the kidneys is not complete, uric acid can build up in the blood stream. The uric crystals get deposited in the joints causing the pain, swelling and inflammation.
The study found that "the threat of gout flares fell by as much as 75% when cherry intake was combined with allopurinol, a drug that lowers uric acid levels, compared to not taking the drug or having the cherries", as reported here by Medicalnewstoday.
The good and tasty news: Three servings - just about one and a half cups of cherries - turns out to be the magic number for preventing a gout attack. There are said to more than 50 kinds of cherries to choose from. Some believe that tart cherries are particularly helpful in lowering inflammation, as well as other red blue and purple fruits and veggies too.
(Experts commenting on the study have advice for patients who currently suffer from gout not to "abandon standard therapies".)
Sad to say: Eating more will not make it even more effective. "Further cherry intake did not provide any additional beneficial effect", Zhang reported, and the Federal Drug Administration has already sent a letter to cherry manufacturers not to brag about these results yet on their advertising.
This particular study, however, although said to be more proof, was limited because it only used-cherry eating gout sufferers, and relied on their memories of what they ate in 48 hours before each attack. Most experts believe that more clinical trials should now be done to further the findings.
Could be Vitamin C: Dr. Allan Gelber who co-wrote a commentary to the study for the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism with Dr. Daniel Solomon, has said that the positive effects of the cherries could be due to the vitamin C and or the anti-inflammatory effects from high antioxidant content, writing that "Anthocyanins are an antioxidant pigment found in cherries and other red and purple fruits and vegetables. They seem to stabilize the free radical molecules responsible for causing inflammation and cell and tissue damage."
Alan Silman, professor and medical director of Arthritis Research United Kingdom, said in a prepared statement that he welcomes the findings, because for some time there has been talk of fruits like cherries being of benefit to people with gout and rheumatoid arthritis, both of which occur with chronic inflammation, and that "it has been suggested that antioxidant compounds found in cherries may be natural inhibitors of enzymes which are targeted by common anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen".
For more about the science and nutrition and how cherries stack up when compared with other fruits, check out The Red Report. For some super cherry recipes, go here. And to watch a VIDEO including some other natural dietary tips about what you can do to prevent flares of GOUT, go here.
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