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Superwoman! I Feel GOOD!

It has been around four weeks (this is the 4th week, although it feels longer) since I addressed my diet and upped the physical exercise. I think, overall, it is working; I feel healthier, and so does the Husband. He, astoundingly, has embraced this period of our lives. I am shocked and happy. He is feeling the benefits much more than I am.

A bout of gout

One of the reasons I decided to change the way we ate was due to my right hand swelling, for about two weeks, over the Christmas period. I now know that I had Gout. Now, I think we associate Gout with Henry VIII, and they used to say it was due to “rich, overindulgent foods and alcohol”. We now know that although this is the case, there are other factors which can cause it like medications and the artificial sugars in fizzy drinks.

Gout is said to occur “when urate crystals accumulate in your joint, causing the inflammation and intense pain of a gout attack.” 1 Gout can be brought on by artificial sweeteners in fizzy drinks and by certain diuretics. I am taking furosemide to address the water in and around my lungs due to heart failure. So, this may be why I had a “gout episode.” I do remember drinking a lot of diet soda before Christmas, which is unusual for me.

Pain and changes in urinary habits

I would wake up in the night in pain. My hand would be so swollen that I was unable to clench it into a fist. Over the day, it would subside a little. I can remember at one point over Christmas, I also was querying the amount of urine that I was producing. I thought it had slowed down as I wasn’t popping to the toilet every half hour, which is what happens every morning.

Gout can appear from out of nowhere. It is characterized as being “hot, swollen and so tender” around the affected joint that “even the weight of a sheet on it may seem intolerable.” 1 Most commonly, it can affect the big toe. “Urate crystals” form within your joints, causing inflammation and nerve pain. This is due to your body producing high levels of “Uric Acid.” Uric acid is normally filtered out via the kidneys; however, sometimes this doesn’t happen and the kidneys find themselves overworked.

Purines found in our diet

Uric acid is produced when our body breaks down things called “purines.” Purines are needed by the body to help to support DNA and can occur naturally in foods. Some foods such as alcohol, steaks, seafood and fizzy drinks with artificial sweeteners are higher in purines, whereas a plant-based diet is low in purines.1 (Makes you wonder what we are eating and what damage it can do to our bodies, doesn’t it?)

What can you do to help yourself?

Drinking plenty of fluids helps, as this flushes out your system. Try not to indulge in the foods and alcohol that you know are high in purines. Limit your intake of meat, seafood, and poultry, and try a more plant-based diet. If you need to lose some weight (I know how difficult it is), then please have a go at reducing your calorie intake and try what we are doing. By limiting ourselves to 3 veggie meals a week, 2 fish and 2 chicken meals, it doesn’t feel as if we are denying ourselves anything.

I am trying so hard

Remember, we aren’t eating anything that is “low-fat”. All “low-fat” means is that there are lots of chemicals within that food product. We are still eating bread, although it’s wholemeal and seeded bread now. We have butter, not low-fat spread, and I make sure our fruit bowl is filled. For me, it is starting to get a bit harder, although I am happy that I am making all the right food choices – although I am not a saint and have succumbed to chocolate and sweet things. I am trying so hard.

A recipe when I’m craving something sweet

A friend of mine gave me a recipe for a strawberry mousse which involves coconut milk in a can that has been in the fridge overnight and then whipped/whisked. You can then add fruit to this mousse; I blitzed some strawberries and added them. It was delicious. If you can’t wait all night for a mousse, then whisk/whip the coconut milk up, add a few tablespoons of chia seeds, and then add your fruit. Leave it in the fridge for an hour or so, and then voila… very yummy strawberry mousse! It has a little “frogspawn” texture to it due to the chia seeds, but it is a nice simple thing to make when you are craving something sweet. (Chia seeds derive from Mexico and Guatemala, from a flowering plant from the mint family. They are filled with omega 3, essential fats, proteins and antioxidants.)2

The occasional chocolatey treat

We decided not to totally cut sugar out, as we realize that there is a place for small ‘treats’. We do, however, need to stop thinking as food as a ‘treat’. This implies that we are “rewarding” ourselves with food. This is NOT a good idea. Everything in life is good, even the chocolatey foods, we just have to remind ourselves that we don’t have them all the time; we have them occasionally and fill up on the easy green veggies, the pulses, and the beans. I think the occasional bit of chocolate doesn’t hurt but do go for the chocolate that has the highest percentage of cacao beans in it, ideally 70% and higher.

Healthy breakfast choices

Drinking black cherry juice also helps to treat gout.3 This is because cherries are considered to have anti-inflammatory properties, and I have been drinking a half pint (250mL) glass of this daily with my breakfast. My breakfast has been 45g muesli and 20g of granola, with milled chia seeds (for fiber) and greek yogurt on top. I wasn’t too keen in the beginning; however, I am actually enjoying it (never thought I would type those words!). It seems that healthier foods do take a lot longer to chew, thus helping our digestion.

An overall positive change

Overall, this has been a really positive thing to do. We sit and eat at the table now – breakfast, lunch, and dinner. My husband Tim has had no problems with his indigestion since doing this, whereas before he suffered terribly with acid reflux.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The BladderCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Gout. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gout/symptoms-causes/syc-20372897. Updated March 1, 2019. Accessed March 25, 2019.
  2. Zelman, K. The Truth About Chia. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/truth-about-chia. Accessed March 25, 2019.
  3. Ferguson, S. Can Cherry Juice Treat or Prevent Gout Flare-Ups? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/cherry-juice-for-gout. Reviewed October 10, 2019 by Whitworth, G. Accessed March 25, 2019.

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