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What Your Big Toe Wants You to Eat and Why

Summer’s such an easy time to eat well: there are farmer’s markets all around Fairfax County where you can pick up fresh blueberries, yellow corn, leafy greens, big red bell peppers or small fiery green ones, and beans plucked from their bushes just this morning.

These many-colored foods are a big part of the “healthy diet” our doctors have been prescribing. When we fill our plate with fresh produce, add some lean meat and whole grains, we’re also helping to keep our feet healthy.

Rich foods, aching feet A diet rich in fatty foods, seafood, red meat, and alcoholic beverages can eventually bite you back in the form of gout. Gout is a form of arthritis that can attack any joint in the body, but very often pops up first in your big toe.

Gout is caused by a buildup of uric acid in your bloodstream. The foods listed above are high in purines, which your body converts to uric acid. When there’s a lot of uric acid flowing through your body, your kidneys can’t work hard enough to properly eliminate it and it builds up, settling in your joints.

Gout and your big toe

When uric acid builds up in your big toe joint, it’s hard to miss. An attack of gout comes on suddenly. You’ll feel a good deal of pain in your big toe, which will look red, swollen and feel extremely tender to the touch. An initial attack can last for several hours, and unfortunately, gout has a habit of coming back.

What to do about gout

Treat a gout attack by

  • resting your foot
  • applying ice
  • taking over-the-counter anti inflammatory meds like ibuprofen or naproxen

Prevent gout attacks by

  • limiting the amount of alcohol you consume
  • flushing out excess uric acid by drinking plenty of water
  • eating complex carbohydrates
  • taking advantage of all the fresh produce available to you this time of year. Many grocery stores carry them year-round, so don’t stop eating them when the farmer’s markets close up for the season.

If you find gout to be a recurring problem for you, contact our podiatrist Kenneth R. Wilhelm, DPM at Clifton Foot & Ankle Center in Centreville, Virginia. We can prescribe medications to reduce your toe inflammation and lower the level of uric acid in your blood. Call our office at (703) 996-3000 or click here to make an appointment online with our foot doctor.

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