Gout is on the rise -- here's your cure

I don't need to see a new study to know that gout is on the rise. All I have to do is look out into my own waiting room, where I've got more patients limping in than ever before. But I am interested in a different study of eating cherries and gout prevention.

One new study finds gout cases in the U.K. have doubled inside of a decade, increasing by an average of 7.2 percent per year in that time. On the other side of the globe, in New Zealand, gout has increased by an average of 5.5 percent in that same decade.

And here in the United States, other recent numbers show that 8.3 million adults are battling gout -- and if that sounds like a lot, just wait. More than 43 million Americans have high levels of uric acid, a marker that means many of them will be fighting their own battles with gout pain in the not-too-distant future.

We're facing so many new cases of gout that they're literally rewriting the rules on this, issuing a new set of guidelines for patients and doctors alike.

Those guidelines do a good job of pointing out that dietary changes and restricting or eliminating alcohol can help prevent flare-ups -- but after that, they read more like Big Pharma marketing material.

You can see them here if you need some bedtime reading. You'll find they mention just about every possible drug for gout despite the fact that many of these meds are barely effective, take far too long to kick in, and often come with unacceptably high risks.

There are much safer and far better alternatives -- and another new study of cherries and gout confirms the effectiveness of one of the gout treatments I recommend most - You've guessed it, it's cherries.

In the cherries and gout study of 633 gout patients tracked for a year, researchers found that those who ate either 30 delicious cherries a day or drank a daily cup of cherry juice had a 35 percent lower risk of flare-ups than those who were told to avoid cherries.

Cherries are rich in anti-inflammatory phytonutrients called anthocyanins. I know that's not exactly a word most people will remember, so just keep this in mind: This compound in cherries can dissolve uric acid crystals. When the crystals dissolve, they can get kicked out by your kidneys.

And when they get kicked out by your kidneys, they don't build up in your joints, especially your foot, where they can bring on the pain.

One note here on cherries and gout: Not all cherries are equally effective. I've found that sour cherry works best -- and you can find it in supplement form, as an extract, or even a juice. If you want to give the juice a try, be sure to read the ingredients closely to make sure it's all cherry and not a blend with sweeteners and other ingredients.

Other natural ways to beat gout include increasing your vitamin C intake and either eating more celery or taking a celery seed supplement. And since high blood sugar levels often go hand-in-hand -- or foot-in-foot -- with gout, make sure you keep them under control.

Finally, don't forget to make dietary adjustments -- because even small changes can make a big difference. You can read more about those changes for free right here.