cherry juice

  1. The right way to beat gout

    I don't know what's worse: Gout, or the drugs prescribed to treat this painful condition.

    Some of these meds can actually make the gout worse before it gets any better -- assuming you even get better at all. And one common gout med comes with death as a possible side effect.

    (That's a heck of a price to pay for a little relief.)

    One of these meds was just at the heart of an $800 million Big Pharma acquisition, so you can expect to see some pretty aggressive marketing for it in the coming months.

    Don't fall for it.

    I've had great success curing this condition naturally, and the science backs up one of my favorite approaches: plain old vitamin C.

    You should be increasing your C intake anyway, since most people are badly deficient. And along with the vitamin's famous immune-boosting powers, it can also help protect you from gout.

    One study of 46,994 men tracked for up to 20 years finds that those who got at least 1,500 mg a day had a 45 percent lower risk of gout than those who took in 250 mg or less.

    Each 500 mg boost in C levels cut the risk of the condition by 17 percent, according to the study in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

    It works because vitamin C can keep levels of uric acid down -- and excess uric acid is what causes gout in the first place.

    But if C alone doesn't keep your gout at bay, try one of my favorite fruits -- the cherry.

    I still see doctors dismissing cherries for gout as a folk remedy, which only tells me they're not keeping up with the science on this -- because the studies show they work.

    The pigments that give cherries their red color are high in anthocyanins, anti-inflammatory phytonutrients that dissolve uric acid crystals, helping them to be excreted by the kidneys. Cherries are also high in potassium, which helps the body maintain a slightly alkaline state -- and since uric acid is, as the name suggests, acidic, it has a harder time forming.

    I've found sour cherries work best, or cherry juice. But for pure convenience, I recommend cherry extract supplements, which have proven to be just as effective and are available in any health food store.

  2. The cherry on top of a good night's sleep

    People looking for a little help getting to sleep used to drink a glass of warm milk.

    That, or maybe a little brandy.

    But there's another drink that might help you get off to dreamland quicker -- and it's not what you'd expect.

    It's tart cherry juice -- and a new study finds that just two cups a day can help you sleep an average of 39 minutes longer and get a 6 percent boost in sleep efficiency.

    That's the amount of time you spend in bed actually asleep, instead of wondering when you'll fall asleep.

    Twenty volunteers were given either two cups of tart cherry juice concentrate diluted in water or two cups of ordinary fruit juice every day for a week -- one in the morning, and one at night.

    And along with more time asleep and better sleep efficiency, the cherry juice drinkers had dramatic bumps in melatonin levels. That's the "sleep hormone" that some people take as a supplement -- and apparently, tart cherries will work almost as well.

    On the other hand, it's probably easier -- and cheaper -- for most people to just add a melatonin supplement.

    Whatever you do, make sure a good night's sleep is on your agenda -- because poor sleep has been linked to erectile dysfunction, hypertension, cognitive decline and even an early death.

    Don't look to sleeping pills for help -- they can make matters worse, with some of the most popular meds linked to horrible side effects, including sleepers who get up and engage in bizarre behavior while still actually asleep.

    Go natural instead -- and if cherry juice isn't your cup of tea, try a 2:1 ratio of calcium to magnesium in the evening. This combination can help you get to sleep quicker, and sleep better once you're out.

    In addition, a supplement of valerian root or valerian tea has also been shown to help bring about a good night's sleep -- try it about 30 minutes or so before bedtime.

  3. Beat the high price of beating gout

    I know the cost of everything is rising, but this is ridiculous: A common remedy for gout and other inflammatory conditions has shot up by more than 2,700 percent. The remedy is called colchicine, and it's been used for literally thousands of years.
  4. Natural solutions for gout

    Gout used to be known as "the rich man's disease" because it usually struck the wealthy -- the only ones who could afford to over-consume the foods that cause this painful form of arthritis. Today, you don't have to be rich (or even a man) to suffer from gout -- just fat. And since more people are fatter than ever before, more people are also battling the foot pain that marks this condition.

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