How Berries can Help in Gout?

Gout is known as the “rich man’s disease” as it is caused due to the consumption of purine rich diet like seafood, organ meat and wine by the patients. It is caused by high content of uric acid in the blood stream.

These uric acid crystals get deposited in the joints which then leads to symptoms like painful, swollen, and stiff joints . The chief cause for occurrence of gout are family history, high level of triglycerides, alcoholism, purine-rich diet or metabolic syndrome.

NSAIDs are the conventionally used treatment for this disease. However cutting down the intake of protein and using some alternate treatment options has also proved to be helpful for most of the patients . 

Berries as Nature’s remedy for Gout

Berries are bright colored and juicy fruits which can be either sweet or sour in taste and do not have a stone or a pit. They are seasonal fruits and are extremely rich in nutrients.

Owing to this they are considered to be a home remedy for a number of different diseases. Most of the berries are considered to be useful for the patients with gout owing to the high content of antioxidants and vitamin C. in fact Blackberry was also known as “gout berry” owing to its use as a treatment for gout in ancient Greek culture .

The flavonoid profile of berries is similar to that of cherries which is well-known for its gout preventing properties. Thus consumption of berries lowers the level of uric acid in the body of the patient thus alleviating the disease symptoms and improving the general health of the patient .

Why is Berry good for Gout?

Anthocyanidins present in berries are very effective antioxidants. These antioxidants are helpful in getting rid of the free radicals formed after the immune response against gout crystals. These free radicals have damaging effect of the body tissues thus their eradication from the blood stream is of utmost importance to relieve the disease symptoms.

Again berries are a good source of Vitamin C. Vitamin C plays a pivotal role in the production of collagen by the body which then is needed for the repair and maintenance of damaged tissues. The uric acid crystals formed during gout usually tear the connective tissues and the free radicals thus formed have a damaging effect. Vitamin C present in berries help in minimizing the damage, reducing inflammation and promoting the healing process.

Berries also have an alkalizing effect which counters the acidity produced by uric acid and thus helps in alleviating disease symptoms. Though the alkalizing abilities of berries is not as strong as that of citrus fruits, but still they add up to the health benefits.

Also due to the low sugar content found in berries as compared to the other fruits, they do not trigger the release of insulin in the body and reduce the risk of diabetes .

They also reduce pain and inflammation by acting as COX inhibitors just like the NSAIDs . 

Berries for gout

Role of different berries in fighting Gout

Many different kinds of berries are available in the market. Most of them have anti-gout activity. However some are more helpful in relieving the symptoms of gout as compared to other. In the next few paragraphs, the gout-fighting capabilities of the commonly known berries are discussed, in brief.

Blackberry has long been recognized for its medicinal value and has been nicknamed as ‘gout berry’ by traditional American and European folk medicine. It is one of the best known berries to treat the symptoms of gout due to its high flavonoid content. In fact the level of anthocyanidins present in blackberry is even higher than that of cherries which make it a preferred choice by the gout patients . Additionally it can also be used to treat diarrhea, inflammation, fluid retention, diabetes and heart diseases .

Bilberries are known as “European Blueberries” and are rich in anthocyanins and other flavonoids. The antioxidant levels in bilberries is higher than blueberries and thus they are having therapeutic and preventive functions in patients with gout .

Strawberries are yet another candidate known for its properties to treat gout in patients.it has a high content of anthocyanins and Vitamin C which can help reduce high level of uric acid in the blood. Additionally it contains magnesium and folic acid. Both these vitamins assist in reducing the pain and inflammation and exercise a preventive role against gout in the patients . Due to high water content of strawberry it further hydrates the body of the gout patient .

Apart from these blueberries , huckle berries and elder berries  could also be taken by the gout sufferers to experience similar benefits.

What are the scientific evidences in support of Berries?

A direct study to prove the role of berry anti-oxidants in relieving the symptoms of gout has not been conducted till date. However a number of studies performed at various times do point towards the anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of berry plant thus proving its significance as a potential anti-gout agent.

A recent study evaluated the anti-oxidant content of black mulberry, blackberry and strawberry. This study found that all the three fruits contain high content of anthocyanins and anti-oxidants. It terms of amount of anti-oxidants present in each type of berry, mulberry was found to have the highest amount followed by black berry and strawberry respectively . This finding thus confirms the anti-oxidative property of berries in gout patients.

Obesity is said to be a major cause for gout. Thus another study tested the effect of berry anthocyanins on inflammation-related adiposity response in host adipocyte and macrophage cells. A fraction of blackberry-blueberry anthocyanins was used in this study. It was found that this fraction inhibited the secretion of nitric oxide, TNF-alpha and nuclear factor kappa B in the host cells.

These are inflammatory mediators and their inhibition plays an important role for patients suffering from gout. Additionally the berry anthocyanins were found to reduce fat accumulation in the cells thus indicating a reduced risk of obesity and diabetes .

A 2014 study also evaluated the anti-inflammatory properties of raspberry extract on human cells. This study proved the mechanism involved behind the anti-tumorigenic and anti-inflammatory role of raspberry extract in humans. Though this study pointed towards the potential of raspberry extract as a potential anti-cancer agent, but the mechanism involving inhibition of inflammatory mediators and COX enzymes demand further investigation regarding its effect in gout patients . 

Similar studies have been conducted with blueberries. A 2002 study aimed to look at the biological effect of polyphenols present in blueberries on humans. It was found that out of 25 anthocyanins found in blueberries, 19 are absorbed by human gut on consumption of the fruit after a high-fat meal. The level of anthocyanins present in the blood serum was found to be directly proportional to the serum antioxidant capacity thus proving that blueberries are beneficial in case of inflammatory disorders .

Thus these studies….

…do point towards the anti-oxidant nature of berry anthocyanins and point towards their potential as an anti-inflammatory agent. However a more directed study needs to be conducted in order to get confirmed results.

Research and clinical trials aimed to study the influence of various kind of berries on gout patients are extremely important to prove their worth in future. Also it is important to identify the potential and role of each kind of berry in treating gout symptoms. 

How to include berries in diet?

Berries could be included in different forms in the diet. In fact a number of tasty preparations and recipes could be tried to add the benefits of berries as a natural remedy for gout. Some of these methods have been listed below:

  • Berries could be consumed raw when in season.
  • Many berries are found in the form of juice. Fresh berry juice can thus be used to enjoy the same health benefits.
  • Some of the berry extracts like bilberry are available in the form of health supplements.
  • Fresh berry jams or fruit wines are also available in some places .
  • Berries could also be consumed as smoothies to avail their health benefits.
  • Berries can also be frozen at home to be consumed later. It is of importance as berries are seasonal fruits and thus cannot be available all year round. In such cases, freezing them could be the best way to maintain their regular supply to treat your symptoms of gout !

Dosage 

No known account about the safe dosage of berries is known yet. The appropriate range of berries to be consumed by a patient depends on various factors like age, health condition and medicines being administered to the patient. As a general rule, berries if consumed within safe limits, should not pose any health problems.

Ripe and dark colored berries are highest in their antioxidant content and thus are most suited for the patients. However it is must be kept in mind that these cannot substitute the conventional treatment and doctor’s consultation and directions are still of utmost relevance for the patients.

Precautions

Some of the precautions to be considered while consuming berries as a remedy for gout are as follows:

  • Opt for organically grown, fresh, ripe and brightly colored berries.
  • Do not take berry supplements without consulting with your doctor.
  • Do not consume raw elder berries owing to presence of cyanide in their seeds. Always opt for elder berry juice .
  • Do not consume berry juices with additives or extra sugar as that will mar the purpose of its intake.
  • Patients who are at a risk of developing kidney stones should avoid consuming strawberries due to their high urate levels. Do consult your doctor in case you have any kind of doubt .

Summary

Gout is an arthritic condition caused due to high content of uric acid and its deposition in the joints thus leading to pain and inflammation. NSAIDs are the normally administered drugs to treat the patients of gout.

However diet plays an equally important role in treating disease symptoms in case of gout and thus some dietary interventions have been found to be extremely beneficial for the patients. Berries are one such intervention which has a positive effect on gout patients. Berries have long been known for their anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

In fact black berries are also known as ‘gout berry’ owing to its relevance in treating gout. Studies have even revealed their anti-oxidative properties and thus encourage their use by the patients with gout.