My Big Toe Is Red And Swollen And My Aunt Tells Me To Eat Cherries?

By Maggie Z. Mathews

You wake up in the middle of the night, and your big toe feels as if it’s on fire. It’s hot, swollen and so tender that even the weight of a blanket on it seems intolerable. These problems could indicate an acute attack of gout or gouty arthritis a form of arthritis that’s characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain, redness and tenderness in joints. And they tell you to eat cherries. What gives?

You may well have gout. Anyone who has had gout will remember it. Gout is a very painful condition that more often than not results in your big toe and perhaps your entire foot swelling many times its normal size. Your foot will be amazingly painful. Most likely you will not be able to stand and may well be reduced to crawling around on all fours in order to get around.

Gout is a painful condition that occurs when the bodily waste product uric acid is deposited in needle-like crystals in your joints and / or soft tissues. Indeed gout is a form of arthritis. It is amazing that these tiny crystals of uric acid can cause you so much trouble. In the joints of your body these tiny uric acid crystals cause this redness and swelling. You can and will suffer greatly with this intermittent swelling, redness, heat, great pain and stiffness of joints. The pain typically lasts five to 10 days and then stops. The discomfort subsides gradually over one to two weeks, leaving your joint s apparently normal and pain-free.

Gout has been known all the way back to the Roman times. Gout has a colorful history and has been called A Rich Mans Disease. Various foods, behaviors and even sex have been blamed as the culprits causing gout.

Gout may well run in your family. There are predispositions of genetic factors. Mainly though the one factor that people can change to reduce their chances of getting gout relating to diet, weight and alcohol intake.


Being overweight increase the risks of developing gout. The fatter and heavier you are the more tissue you have that breaks down that uric acid in your body. Lose weight. Next reduce your alcohol consumption. Drinking too much alcohol makes it harder and harder for your body to remove that uric acid from your body easily. Lastly the one major change that people can take to reduce their chances of getting gout is to change and modify their diet. Eating the wrong foods that are rich in purines can push your chances of getting gout over the edge so to speak. The amazing part is that the uric acid crystals may deposit in your joints causing gout a some later. Not in the immediate several days following your pleasure.

You may think that you got away with eating that shrimp or having a few dark beers for the several days. Then a week, several weeks or even a month later, bam, your foot and big toe swell up. You well can guess what the tie in that resulted in your latest discomfort of gout.

What is a recommended diet to reduce your chances of gout? Lose weight. Avoid red meats and foods high in purines. These include Sweetbreads, shrimp, anchovies, sardines, beef kidneys and brains, Meat extracts (e.g. Oxo, Bovril), herring, mackerel, scallops, game meat, gravy, dark beer and alcohol of any type, Moderate intake of Vegetables such as asparagus, cauliflower, spinach, mushrooms and green peas. Reduce your intake of Lentils, dried peas and beans. Beef, pork, poultry, fish and seafood should all be eaten in moderation. Lastly reduce your intake of Oatmeal, wheat bran and wheat germ.

You may well be given by your doctor pills to take on a regular ongoing basis to reduce your uric acid levels. Do not take them when you are having a gout attack thinking that these gout pills will help you.

Taking this medication that prevents gout during a gout attack will only increase the actual uric acid in your blood making your gout much worse. In addition your doctor may give you different medication to take during the gout attack. This medication is very different than that given to prevent gout. Lastly do not take aspirin during a gout attack. You may think that since gout is related to arthritis that aspirin will help you.

Taking aspirin during a gout attack will only make your gout worse. However if your doctor has prescribed aspirin for another medical condition do not stop taking that aspirin. It is best always to contact your doctor for specific instructions.

Lastly you may have been told to drink cherry juice or eat blueberries. To help your gout.

Consuming dark berries can well help your uric acid levels and gout. It has been known for many years that competitive bicyclists would consume dark berries and berry juices before competitive bicycle races.

The dark pigment giving berries their darker colors is derived from a chemical called Anthracines.

Anthracines can be found to have a very very potent antinflammatory effect. The anti-inflammatory effect of anthracine compounds in dark berries can well help to reduce the symptoms of your gout and get you along the way.

Research is underway to compare the benefits of different types of berries or berry juices that you can consume. Anthracines are components of the dark pigments that give the darker berries their colors.

For the moment is appears that cherries (most notably sour cherries), and blueberries are loaded with the gout helping anthocyanins.

About the Author: Maggie Z, Mathews

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