skinGout pain feels like there are shards of glass inside your skin. It’s almost like that. Instead of glass, though, the cause of the pain is the presence of uric acid crystals that settle in your joints. Sometimes the pain, inflammation and swelling caused by these needle-like crystals is so severe that walking is difficult or impossible.

Uric acid is a natural byproduct of protein metabolism in our bodies. While scientists know WHAT causes gout they aren’t sure why it happens to some people and not to others. Some theories suggest genetics and others look more closely at diet. The more likely cause is probably a combination of both. Even some drugs are associated with gout pain. Some diuretic medicines (hydrochlorothiazide) used for high blood pressure have been implicated.

Dr. Jay Holder, MD, DC, PhD, says, “If you’ve had your first attack of gout, you want to prevent ever having another.” While there are medicines that can be used to ease the pain of an attack, the basic approach must be prevention.

Prevention. Uric acid crystals are soluble in water. One approach to prevention is to consume significant amounts of water to flush the uric acid from your system, thus preventing formation of crystals. Water is important. Many people don’t drink enough. One recommendation for water is to drink an ounce for every two pounds of your body weight. That means that a 200-pound person should try to drink 100 ounces (almost a gallon) of clean water every day. This isn’t too much water for most of us but it can be difficult to consume that much. Even if a gout sufferer can’t drink the recommended amount, the more water they can consume the less likely that they’ll suffer the pain from uric acid crystals.

Keep in mind that I mentioned CLEAN WATER. Some municipal water and well water contains chemicals that can have some negative impact on our bodies. Some studies have found drugs like Prozac in the water, as well as hormones and pesticides. Therefore, if you’re serious about water you will want to investigate using a water filtration system that can remove toxic chemicals from your drinking water.

Cherries. There is a substance in cherries called anthocyanocides that seem to be effective in lowering uric acid levels. Dr. Laurie Aesoph a naturopathic doctor in Sioux Falls, SD suggests eating about a half cup of cherries each day. No, you can’t substitute commercial cherry juice. It is pasteurized and that process destroys the beneficial anthocyanocides.

Watch That Protein. Purine is an amino acid found in protein – a lot in meat – that is metabolized to uric acid in our body. To lower the levels of available uric acid reduce your consumption of protein that contains purine. Foods that are highest in purine are liver, kidney, sweetbreads, sardines, mackerel, anchovies, asparagus, mushrooms, and beans.

Imbibing. Alcohol consumption seems to cause the uric acid to come out of solution and form crystals. To prevent gout attacks you would want to consider eliminating alcohol consumption. All alcohol is implicated.

Quick Relief. Some natural doctors suggest a tablespoonful of apple cider vinegar every day helps keep uric acid in solution.

Don’t Forget the Vitamins. Vitamin B6 helps distribute water throughout the body, keeps us hydrated, and hopefully prevents gout attacks