Gout is caused due to the consumption of purine rich diets 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 the occurrence of gout is family history, high level of triglycerides, alcoholism, purine-rich diet or metabolic syndrome.
Gout can affect any joint but is common in hands, knees, wrists, ankles, and elbows. Often it targets the big toe. The attack of gout happens at night with extreme pain in the joint and comes without warning.
The risks depend on factors like gender, age, genetics, diet and medical conditions. It is believed that gout is more common in men of age 30 to 50, women who have undergone menopause, people who are overweight, or who have a family history of gout, or who suffer from conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and kidney issues or who have had previous surgery.
Consuming foods like meat, beans, peas, alcohol and sweetened drinks can increase the production of uric acid in the body and increase the risk of having gout.
NSAIDs are the conventionally used treatment for this disease. However cutting down the intake of protein and using some alternative treatment options has also proved to be helpful for most of the patients.
Let us see what makes berries beneficial in treating gout.
Berries as Nature’s remedy for Gout
Berries are bright coloured 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.
Berries contain several active components like resveratrol and anthocyanins which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which help in the treatment of gout. These compounds are found in a variety of berries including blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, cranberries, cherries, mulberries, and gooseberries to name a few.
10 Ways Berries Benefit in Gout
Berries are full of phenolic compounds and other antioxidants which make them ideal for relieving gout symptoms and improving the health conditions of persons suffering from gout. Here’s how berries aid in gout management.
1. Berries help in reducing inflammation of the joints
Gout is characterized by inflammation of the joints caused by urate deposits. Though non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are used for treatment, they have adverse effects on health. Thus, natural treatments offer a safer alternative.
Berries consist of phenolic compounds and flavonoids like resveratrol and anthocyanin which possess anti-inflammatory properties.
Resveratrol has been identified as a very potent anti-inflammatory agent, stronger than the commonly used drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin.
It inhibits the inflammatory pathways activated by TNF-α (Tumor Necrosis Factor –alpha) which is the cause of many inflammatory diseases.
It inhibits interleukins and nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB), which are known to cause inflammation in the cells of cartilages.
Also, studies have shown that anthocyanins present in cherries can help with inflammation in arthritis cases.
In animal models, extracts from mulberry and cherry, which contain anthocyanins have been used for treating arthritis-related inflammations, by inhibiting the inflammatory mediators like prostaglandins and TNF-α (Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha).
What does this mean? Berries reduce joint swelling and pain by inhibiting various inflammatory pathways in the body.
2. Berries alleviate pain
Pain in joints caused by gout is treatable by resveratrol and anthocyanin present berries.
What does this mean? Berries help in relieving joint pain in gout patients.
3. Berries contain numerous antioxidants
Berries have many antioxidants present in them which help in protecting the joint cells from damage by toxins. Due to inflammation and deposition of urate crystals in the joints, several reactive species are generated which are unstable and tend to neutralize themselves by attacking the cells of the joint.
Antioxidants in berries can scavenge these radicals and deal with them, thereby protecting the joint tissues from damage.
Research has led to the extraction of antioxidants from various berries like mulberries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, blueberries, and strawberries. It was found that their antioxidant nature and high oxygen radical absorbance capacity was due to the presence of phenolic compounds and anthocyanins.
Also, anthocyanins from berries are readily absorbed and utilized by the body, which makes them even more useful as antioxidants.
Apart from anthocyanin, berries contain beta carotene (Vitamin A), ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), alpha-tocopherol (Vitamin E) and glutathione, all of which are excellent antioxidants.
What does this mean? Anthocyanin and resveratrol in berries are potent antioxidative agents which protect the joints from damage by toxins.
4. Berries help in treating arthritis
The symptoms of gout-like inflammation and pain of joints are similar to other types arthritis. Thus anti-arthritic compounds may be helpful in relieving these symptoms and help in treating gouty arthritis.
Resveratrol found in many berries shows anti-arthritic nature and has been found to be therapeutic in treating arthritis. It inhibits inflammatory mediators and helps in protecting the cartilages from damage.
What does this mean? Berries are helpful in treating symptoms of different types of arthritis.
5. Berries have anti-gout effect
Berries are as effective in treating gout as they are in treating arthritis. Gout is profoundly affected by the nutritional status of the person and consumption of certain foods can increase or decrease the risk of gout.
Specifically, cherries have been studied widely for gout treatment and have been found quite effective in treating crystal-induced arthritis.
In a study conducted on 633 subjects with gout, it was revealed that cherry intake lowered the risk of gout attacks by 35%.
It helps in decreasing the concentration of urate in the blood, whose high levels are the cause of gout.
In another survey carried out on 499 individuals, 24% of the persons suffering from gout preferred cherry extract for relieving their symptoms.
Resveratrol present in several berries has been identified as a potential compound for treating inflammation, high uric acid levels and other conditions of gout in animal models.
In combination with sodium alginate, resveratrol helped in treating gouty arthritis and was found to be better than colchicines, which are commonly used for gout treatment.
What does this mean? Berries, especially cherries are widely studied and proven as a gout remedy.
6. Berries improve joint health
Resveratrol in berries has therapeutic uses in treating joint disorders. Thus, it has potential to be used for treating gout, which results in inflammation and damage to the tissues of the joints.
It protects the human chondrocytes (cells of the joint) by inhibiting the production of proteases, which cause the degradation of the cartilages.
It helps in lowering nitric oxide levels in the synovial fluid of the joints and thereby preventing the death of joint tissues caused by inflammation and toxins.
What does this mean? Berries protect the joints and cartilages from damage and improve their functioning.
7. Berries assist in lowering the levels of uric acid
High uric acid levels are the primary cause of gouty arthritis. Reoccurrences of gout are prevented by taking medications to decrease uric acid production and facilitate its removal.
However, these drugs can have side effects. Natural treatments offer a safer alternative for this function.
In gout cases, a diet consisting fruits like cherries are preferred as they help in lowering the uric acid concentration in the blood.
In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, it was found that consuming cherries, which are rich in Vitamin C, helped in lowering the plasma urate levels in women. This depicts the efficacy of cherries in treating gout.
Taxifolin, a compound present in strawberries is a potent antioxidant and helps in inhibiting the production of uric acid, lowering its concentration in both blood and liver.
The similar effect has been demonstrated by resveratrol found in berries. It helps in reducing the levels of uric and protects the kidneys from its harmful effects.
What does this mean? Several berries help in lowering the levels of uric acid and preventing the occurrence of gout.
8. Berries help in weight loss
As gout is more common in obese persons, weight loss is recommended for preventing recurrent gout attacks.
Berries consist of resveratrol and anthocyanins which not only help in treating gout symptoms but also are beneficial for weight loss.
Both these compounds assist in regulating energy metabolism and fat storage, thus preventing the occurrence of obesity and related disorders.
It reduces the body fat by aiding in the metabolism of lipids and fatty acids in the body.
In a study conducted on 161 persons, resveratrol, along with another compound called orlistat helped in decreasing body weight by reducing the BMI, waist circumference, and body fats and lipids.
What does this mean? People with gout can also lose weight by consuming berries.
9. Berries lower the blood pressure
Hypertension is another condition which increases the occurrence of gout attacks.Therefore, lowering the blood pressure can help in preventing these attacks.
A study reports the efficacy of resveratrol present in berries in relieving hypertension. Results of the two-year long trail revealed that resveratrol helps in controlling the blood pressure and maintains it at normal levels.
What does this mean? Intake of berries helps in reducing the blood pressure in gout patients.
10. Berries reduce risk of diabetes
Persons with higher blood glucose levels or metabolic disorders have a greater tendency of getting affected by gout.
Controlling diabetes and maintaining optimum levels of blood glucose concentrations is beneficial in gout patients.
Berries are anti-diabetic as they comprise of resveratrol which helps in controlling glucose levels and increases insulin sensitivity.
What does this mean? Berries are helpful in tackling diabetes by minimizing the blood sugar and insulin resistance.
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 the 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!
There is no particular dosage of berries for treating gout. Berries should be included in the diet in moderate amounts to benefit from their properties.
Different types of berries like cranberries, strawberries, cherries, mulberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc. should be consumed.
They can be added to breakfast cereals and smoothies or other dishes. Juices of berries can also be taken.
A small serving of about 100g daily can be taken.
To improve kidney function 300-400mg of cranberries can be taken daily.
One can also take resveratrol supplements available commercially.
To determine the optimum dosage relating to one’s health condition, consult your physician or nutritionist.
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 coloured berries.
- Do not take berry supplements without consulting with your doctor.
- Do not consume raw elder berries owing to the 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.
Gout is an arthritic condition caused due to a 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 with 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.