We don’t celebrate it here in New Zealand, but today is Thanksgiving Day in America – well, technically they’ll be celebrating it “our” tomorrow, but Thanksgiving is officially always celebrated on the last Thursday of November. Anyway, I don’t know about you, but for me it represents the precursor to Christmas – it’s always after I know America has celebrated their Thanksgiving that I start to get all angsty about whether or not I’m going to be adequately prepared for the Christmas festivities that lie ahead, and how my body is going to cope with all the inevitable over-indulgence…

The kind of over-indulgence that can be a precursor to a painful condition known as Gout…

Gout is a type of arthritis that is caused by having too much uric acid in the joints. Uric acid is formed as a result of the breakdown of purines – a substance that is found in virtually all foods, but higher in concentration in seafood, red meat, beer and red wine. The uric acid usually dissolves in your blood and passes through your kidneys and into your urine – but sometimes it doesn’t dissolve in the blood stream, and it builds up and turns into sharp crystals that collect in the joints of the toes, the top of the foot and the ankles. It can also affect other joints in your body but it is most prevalent in the foot. The collection of the crystalised uric acid in the joints causes the affected joints to swell, become inflamed, feel hot and become extremey painful – especially when touched.

People who are overweight, have a purine-rich diet and drink excessively are more prone to attacks of gout. Men are more prone to attacks than women, although women become susceptible to attacks after menopause.

Treatment of gout includes anti-inflammatory medications for the pain, elevation of the swollen joint, use of ice packs and maintaining good hydration to help flush out your system.

If you are prone to gout attacks it is best to avoid eating and drinking too much of the following:

  • Scallops
  • Herring
  • Red meat
  • Turkey
  • Asparagus
  • Organ meats (like liver and kidney)
  • Beer
  • Red wine
  • Sugary drinks

Instead up your daily fluid intake eat plenty of low-fat dairy foods, complex carbohydrates and fruit – especially citrus fruits.

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Happy Thanksgiving America!