Gout is a common form of arthritis that is characterized by recurrent attacks of swollen, red, hot and stiff joints. Gout can occur in various joints such as ankles, knees, elbows, toes and fingers. Gout attacks can be painful and last several days. This article will discuss the causes of gout and how to manage it from a nutrition perspective.
Gout is caused by the accumulation of urate crystals in the joints, which can cause inflammation and pain. Urate crystals are formed because of elevated uric acid in the blood, which can be due to overproduction of uric acid, underexcretion of it, or both. Uric acid is the end-product of purine metabolism. Purines are substances that are found naturally in the human body and in foods such as animal products, organ meats, seafood and beer. Gout was known as “the disease of kings” or “rich man’s disease” since high-purine foods such as meat, seafood and alcohol were expensive back in the ancient times.
Males who are over 45 years old are more commonly affected by gout. The risk of getting gout increases among postmenopausal women. Other risk factors of gout include family history of gout, overweight/obesity, alcohol intake, and a high purine diet.
Common symptoms of gout include intense joint pain, lingering discomfort, limited range of motion, inflammation and redness.
Since gout is a chronic and recurrent condition, it is important to manage it with lifestyle modifications to reduce acute attack episodes.
According to the Nutrition Care Manual, current guidelines for treating people with gout include a balanced meal plan that is limited in animal products and alcohol intake (especially beer), and encourages adequate fluid intake.
It is important for patients with gout who have other conditions such as hyperlipidemia, hypertension, diabetes or obesity to manage these conditions with healthcare providers. Weight loss in obese patients is beneficial to help improve gout symptoms.
Please feel free to ask your dietitian in your care team if you have any questions about the gout diet or any specific foods!