Gout is an arthritic condition that is caused by deposits of uric acid crystals. These crystals can build up in the tissues and fluids of your body, causing pain.
Gout affects an estimated four million people in the U.S.
Now a new study reports that drinking coffee — a lot of coffee — can actually prevent gout.
Researchers at the Harvard Medical School and the University of British Columbia studied 50,000 men aged 40 to 75 who had no history of gout.
The study spanned 12 years, after which time 747 men developed gout. It was found that men who drank four to five cups of coffee a day had a 40% reduction in the risk of developing gout.
Decaffeinated coffee appeared to have a similar benefit, although drinking tea did not.
The researchers believe that something other than caffeine must be causing this beneficial effect. They suggested that coffee has antioxidants which help reduce uric acid levels.
If you don’t want to drink five cups of coffee a day, is there anything else you can do to prevent uric acid crystals from building up?
Uric acid is formed from purines, which are important compounds in the formation of DNA and RNA. Certain foods are known to be high in purines.
If you have a gout attack, try avoiding these foods which are rich in purines:
— organ meats — goose — sardines — mackerel — anchovies — scallops
Spinach and asparagus are also moderately high in purines.
There is also some evidence that beer, ale, and wine may interfere with uric acid elimination through the kidneys.
Foods which can help prevent an attack of gout are pineapples, which are high in an enzyme called bromelain. Bromelain is thought to inhibit the proteins that promote inflammation. You can also take bromelain as a supplement.
Quercitin is a natural antihistamine shown to have anti- inflammatory properties. Quercitin may be able to inhibit an enzyme that creates uric acid.
Although there is not a lot of positive press these days about dairy products, milk actually seems to reduce the risk of gout attacks. Milk, not surprisingly, is a purine-free food.
And finally, cherries have been proven to lower uric acid levels, helping to prevent painful attacks.