Why do people get gout?
Gout is a type of arthritis causing pain and swelling in the joints. The symptoms usually occur as flares lasting for a week or two and then go away. Gout flares usually start in the big toe or a lower limb.
The disease happens when the body has high levels of a substance called uric acid or urate. When high levels of uric acid build up, the needle-shaped urate crystals form in and around the joints. This causes inflammation and arthritis of the affected joint. Many people with high serum uric acid, however, may not develop gout.
Some factors may increase a person’s risk for gout, including
- Male gender
- Certain health conditions, such as
- Certain medications like diuretics or water pills
- Alcohol consumption
- Foods or drinks rich in fructose (a type of sugar)
- A diet rich in purines including red meat, organ meat, anchovies, sardines, mussels, scallops and tuna
Gout is a lifelong disease and cannot be cured. The disease, however, is one of the most controllable forms of arthritis. It can be effectively managed with early diagnosis, medications and lifestyle changes.
What foods are good for gout?
Dietary management of gout focuses on reducing the amount of uric acid in the system and attaining and maintaining a healthy body weight.
Foods that may help keep gout in check are
- Fresh fruits and vegetables such as berries, oranges, bell pepper and pineapple
- Low-fat dairy products, such as yogurt and skimmed milk
- Nuts including nut butters such as almond butter and peanut butter
- Whole grains
- Potatoes, rice, whole-grain bread and pasta
- Eggs (in moderation)
- Oils such as olive oil
- Flax and other seeds
- Plenty of water and other non-sugary and non-alcoholic drinks
What can you not eat with gout?
Foods rich in purines must be avoided if you have gout. Purines are a type of chemical that produce uric acid in the body. They are naturally found in the body and can also be found in certain foods. The main modification in the diet traditionally involves eating a low-purine diet. Although avoiding purines completely is not possible, you should strive to limit them.
Both moderate and high-purine foods and drinks must be avoided if you have gout. These include
- Alcohol is a major trigger for gout attacks. This is because when you drink alcohol your kidneys filter it out instead of uric acid. This leads to the build-up of uric acid in the body. All alcoholic beverages are bad for gout. Beer is especially bad for gout since it is rich in purines.
- Certain fish, seafood and shellfish, including anchovies, trout, sardines, herring, codfish, mussels, codfish, scallops and haddock
- Organ meats such as liver, kidney, sweetbreads and brain. People with gout, however, can have a moderate intake of lean meats such as chicken and turkey.
- Red meat including bacon, turkey, veal and venison
- Dried beans and peas
- Food products containing a high amount of fructose (a type of sugar) such as soda and some juices, cereal, ice cream, candy and junk food
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