The primary cause of gout of the joints is inflammation caused by a buildup of uric acid crystals. Gout is a form of arthritis and, although the exact disease mechanism is unknown, it suspected to be a hereditary condition most common in men older than 40 that also occurs in postmenopausal women. Once known as a disease of nobility, it's primarily caused by the diet of people who are predisposed to the disease. For example, a high concentration of seafood in the diet has been found to greatly increase the likelihood of gout of the joints.
The main symptom of gout is painful swelling on one or more joints. Although this pain is primarily associated with the big toe, gout can strike any joint of the body. In severe cases, where the buildup of needle-like uric acid crystals has inflamed the joint and surrounding tissue, the surrounding skin can be come red and shiny.
For years, diets rich in meats and in foods that are considered to be high in purines, which accentuate the production of uric acid in the body, were believed to cause gout of the joints. Researchers, however, have found that high-purine foods such as peas, beans, mushrooms, cauliflower and spinach were not associated with a higher risk of this condition. Fatty meats, though, have been found to increase the risk by about 40%.
Certain foods and food supplements are known to lessen the effects of people suffering from gout. Cherries are the most studied food that has a documented beneficial effect in gout attacks, but other dark berries are known to have a positive effect on symptoms as well. Celery has been used for centuries as a remedy for arthritis, rheumatism, and gout.
There are other supplements that are known to have a beneficial effect on gout, including bromelain, an enzyme derived from pineapple. It is available in capsule form as a suitable alternative to stronger prescription anti-inflammatory drugs. Also beneficial are tumeric or curcumin, which act much like over-the-counter painkillers in relieving inflammation.