sour cherries

  1. Cherries and gout

    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.

  2. 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.

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