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5 Tips for Preventing a Gout Flare-Up Over the Holidays

5 Tips for Preventing a Gout Flare-Up Over the Holidays

For patients who are prone, gout occurs when the body has more uric acid than the kidneys can process. Uric acid accumulates, forming crystals in the joints of your body, most commonly in the toes, ankles, and knees. These crystals cause the severe pain and swelling associated with a gout flare-up.

If you’re vulnerable to gout, the holiday season can mean worrying about when, not if, a flare-up will happen. At Optima Foot and Ankle, our podiatrists are ready to lend support should gout make an appearance this holiday season. We’ve compiled five tips for preventing flare-ups during this year’s festivities. 

1. Don’t forget hydration

Staying hydrated is important year-round, but it’s easy to put your water intake on the back burner with the bustle of the holiday season. Cold weather may make you feel you can skip the water bottle, but dehydration can creep up in the cold, dry air of winter.

The kidneys need water to filter out uric acid in your body. Without sufficient hydration, the level of uric acid climbs, allowing crystals to form, the forerunner to a gout attack.

2. Go easy on the cocktails

Cutting back or eliminating alcohol reduces the risk of a gout flare-up. The kidneys place alcohol ahead of uric acid on their processing priorities, leading to higher levels of uric acid in the bloodstream. Enjoy your favorites in moderation, or choose alcohol-free mocktails. Add an extra glass of water or two to your hydration plan. 

3. Watch the sugary treats

It’s hard to resist the dessert table, and indulging in festive baked goods and sweets is part of the holiday fun, but overindulging can spike your blood sugar levels. 

High blood glucose can lead to increased uric acid levels and vice versa, especially for overweight or obese patients. Limiting sugary food and drinks, especially those made with high-fructose corn syrup, can help prevent gout attacks. 

4. Avoid purines

Purines are chemicals that occur naturally in all plant matter and animal protein, but some foods have higher levels than others. Purines break down into uric acid in the body and eating too much purine-rich food is a big trigger for gout sufferers.

Red meats, pork, and, unfortunately, your holiday turkey are all examples of meats high in purines. Avoid organ meats and shellfish as well, as these top the charts for purine levels. Focus on a low-purine diet including varied protein sources, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Cherries are one food that may lower uric acid levels in the body.

5. De-stress

While the goal may be to rest and relax during the holidays, it can be a busy and stressful time of year. Racing out to stores, visiting family, and planning gatherings can all amp up the pressure in your day-to-day life.

Stress can contribute to rising uric acid levels in your body, so it’s important to relax your mind as well as your body when managing gout symptoms and preventing flare-ups. Try yoga, mindfulness exercises, or meditation to help you feel less stressed.

At Optima Foot and Ankle, we’re here to help manage your gout when flare-ups occur, and we wish you a pain-free holiday season. Contact us today to make an appointment at our nearest location for treatment or for further gout management tips.

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