Gout seems like an affliction that belongs in 19th century British novels where the lords of the manor spend the night imbibing port and playing cards. But in fact this form of arthritis may be on the increase right here in 21st century America because of the rising rate of obesity.
It's estimated that about 8.3 million U.S. adults suffer from gout, which is an inflammatory arthritis triggered by a build-up of uric acids in your joints. It causes pain and swelling and often starts in your big toe. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, you're at risk if you are overweight, drink excessive alcohol or have high cholesterol, diabetes or high blood pressure.
Although there are medications to treat gout, researchers are also looking at ways that eating certain foods can stop the ailment. One recent study published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism found that patients with gout who ate cherries over a two-day period showed a 35 percent lower risk of a gout attack than those who did not eat cherries.
Other studies indicate that cherries may act as an anti-inflammatory and may also lower the concentration of uric acid.
None of this is definitive and researchers say that if you're suffering from gout and your doctor has prescribed medication to treat it, you should continue to take that medication. But this does show the potential importance of diet in battling chronic diseases and conditions.