Did you know that African Americans are 1.69x more likely to suffer from gout than Caucasian Americans? Gout in African Americans is also less likely to be treated, leading to increased morbidity from the disease.
How Does Gout Affect African Americans?
Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis, caused by the accumulation of excess uric acid crystals in the joints. Uric acid in blacks accumulates at a higher rate due primarily to lifestyle, including higher levels of obesity, lower physical activity, hypertension, renal failure, and alcohol consumption. Doctors generally agree that the prevalence of gout in black Americans would be much higher if African genetics did not provide the natural protective benefits that it does.
Is Gout Dangerous for Your Health?
In addition to the pain, gout itself increases your risk for heart attack or stroke. It also increases the risk of diabetes. And the uric acid crystals themselves can become infected. This makes the disease deadly, and in the current state of healthcare inequality, gout can be especially dangerous for African Americans.
What Are Some Gout Treatments?
There are many gout treatments available. Medications are effective, although potentially costly without adequate insurance. The good news is, healthy lifestyle changes provide natural healing for gout. Holistic care for gout can also bring substantial relief.
Drinking plenty of water is the first step. Perhaps it won’t seem intuitive, but drinking more water helps you shed excess water through your kidneys and thus prevent uric acid crystals from forming. It also helps calm inflammation, which is the cause of gout pain.
By that same token, consuming less alcohol, particularly beer, helps alleviate symptoms as well. Alcohol dehydrates you, making uric acid more concentrated in your system and allowing inflammation to develop.
Eating less animal protein also helps relieve symptoms. Specific compounds in animal proteins called purines make symptoms worse, but these compounds are not present in plant proteins such as beans.
Overall, weight loss will help gout symptoms a lot for most people. Plus, losing weight also reduces the risk of Type II Diabetes, another risk factor for gout. Dietary changes like those listed above, plus simple exercise like walking or stretching, will help lose excess weight and lower gout inflammation.
Natural anti-inflammatories are a great holistic approach to gout treatment. These can be added to the diet in supplement form or consumed with meals. Such anti-inflammatory foods include apple cider vinegar, turmeric, lemon juice, cherries, and celery.
Anti-inflammatory tisanes (caffeine-free herbal teas) have also been shown to alleviate symptoms of gout, including milk thistle, chamomile, hibiscus, and nettle.
Overall, stress itself has been shown to be a significant risk factor for gout. African Americans often deal with stress with food, alcohol, and sedentary activities, which make gout worse. Adding in de-stressing activities such as exercise, mindfulness, and meditation will often improve symptoms.
If you do unfortunately experience a flare-up, it can be very painful. Icing the affected area provides most people with immediate relief. Soaking in Epsom salts also helps many people, or just soaking in cold water alone.
Even though you may be at increased risk, with the many resources available to you it’s within reach to take control over your gout.