The one stop shop for all your gout treatment questions

General Gout Questions and Answers

What causes gout anyway?

Gout is a medical condition usually characterized by recurrent attacks of acute inflammatory arthritis—a red, tender, hot, swollen joint. In 50% of cases, the metatarsal-phalangeal joint at the base of the big toe is affected. Gout is caused by elevated levelsof uric acid in the blood which crystallises. The crystals are then deposited in your joints, tendons, and surrounding tissues.

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Diagnosis is confirmed clinically. The doctor visualizes the characteristics of the crystals in joint fluid. Once the acute attack has subsided, levels of uric acid are usually lowered via lifestyle changes, or by using a treatment to maintain lower uric acid levels.

Gout has increased in frequency in recent decades affecting approximately one to two percent of theWestern population at some point in their lives. The increase is believed to be due to increasing risk factors in the population, such as metabolic syndrome, longer life expectancy and changes in diet. Gout was historically known as “the disease of kings” or “rich man’s disease”.

It’s not all bad news though! There are a number of products on the market to help you keep your uric acid levels down. They are split between pharmaceutical products and all natural (Nutrace

utical) products.


Can I prevent gout with diet alone?

It’s a trickier question than you think! Some people can, and some people can’t? To find out if you can, have a look at the diets on the internet and see if they look right for you. Discuss them with your doctor, and with people you know who have tried them.

If the diet approach isn’t for you, then have a look at our product review page to see if there’s a natural gout treatment product that can help you manage your uric acid levels

If you are interested in trying to manage your gout through diet, here’s a few links to get you started:

Amazon Gout Cook Books

Is gout an “old man’s disease?”

Gout is that rare example where the myth is true, though for reasons that people throughout history could not have surmised. It is true that gout remains predominately a disease of men (it is eight times more prevalent in men than women), and disease prevalence increases with age. Men over 30, for instance, represent one percent of all attacks, while men over age 65 account for approximately 10 percent of all attacks. The male predominance has to do with elevated uric acid levels in the bloodstream. In men, uric acid levels begin to rise after puberty, while in women, uric acid levels do not begin to rise until after menopause. This suggests that the hormone estrogen may have a protective effect in women.

Which foods most likely contribute to gout attacks?

Historically, gout patients have been advised to avoid all foods that are rich in purines because they are more likely to cause or aggravate gout. These include organ meats, such as liver, kidneys, brains, and sweetbreads, as well as sardines, anchovies, clams, and purine-rich vegetables (peas, beans, cauliflower).

In order to get a better picture of the effects of purine-rich foods on gout, Dr. Hyon K. Choi, a rheumatologist at Harvard Medical School, undertook a study that was published in a recent issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. Choi’s research highlighted several dietary considerations for those concerned with staving off gout. By taking a comprehensive look at a broad range of dietary factors, he was able to confirm the long-held—yet never proven—suspicion that consumption of certain purine-rich meats and seafood increases the risk of gout.

Over the course of twelve years, Dr. Choi and his fellow researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University tracked the dietary habits of 47,150 men aged 40 through 75 with no history of gout, comparing those who developed gout (730) during the course of the study with those who remained gout-free. After adjusting for weight and for any medications the men were taking, Dr. Choi and his colleagues reached the following conclusions:

  • Meats. Those who consumed meats with the highest purine concentration (specifically organ meats, beef, pork, and lamb) were 40 percent more likely to develop gout than those who ate the least.
  • Seafood. All types of seafood are high in purines. Those who ate the most seafood (including canned tuna, shrimp, lobster, and scallops) were 50 percent more likely to develop gout than those who ate the least.
  • Vegetables. Vegetables high in purines, including peas, beans, mushrooms, cauliflower, and spinach, were not associated with gout attacks.
  • Dairy. The incidence of gout decreases with increasing intake of dairy products. Low-fat dairy products may have protective benefits, most likely due to the proteins in milk that help reduce uric acid levels. Those who drank one or two glasses of skim milk per day were 48 percent less likely to develop gout.
  • Alcohol. Those who consumed the least alcohol also tended to follow a low-purine diet with a low-fat dairy component, thereby recording fewer gout flare-ups. (Note: Beer is the only alcoholic beverage acknowledged to have a high-purine content. A more recent study of 50,000 men in the Lancet reported that beer increases uric acid concentrations in blood plasma, which may precipitate gout attacks. Moderate wine consumption was not linked to a risk of the disease in this Lancet study.)

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