Nutrition Related Diseases

Gout occurs when abnormal levels of uric acid accumulate in the blood. This uric acid then gets deposited in the joint tissues where it forms crystals and is usually experienced as a sharp arthritic pain that begins in the joints, such as the big toe and continues up the leg.

These crystals can also form stones in the kidney and urinary passage (i.e. as kidney stones). This condition usually affects men more than women, and the risk is higher in those above the age of 35 years.

The amount of uric acid in your body depends on the amount of uric acid your body makes and gets rid of.

  1. Your body may naturally make a higher amount of uric acid or have more difficulty getting rid of it.
  2. Certain medications (e.g. diuretics) and medical conditions (e.g. high blood pressure) can affect how much uric acid your body makes or passes (mostly through urine). It's important to keep taking your medications. Talk to your doctor before you stop taking any medications.
  3. The amount of purine that you eat.
    Some food and beverages contain compounds called purines.  Purines change to uric acid in the body. Meat and seafood are high in purine and can increase uric acid levels. Purines found in plant foods do not increase uric acid levels and are not a concern.

Stages of Gout

Gout can be classified into four basic stages and treatment will depend on the stage.

Asymptomatic Hyperuricamia

Elevated uric acid levels in the blood, but no other symptoms.

Acute Hyperuricaemia-arthritis attack

Hyperuricemia causes the deposit of uric acid crystals in joint spaces. Intense symptoms of pain and inflammation are experienced.

Interval or remission stage

The period between acute gout attacks when there are no symptoms, and there is a normal joint function

Chronic arthritis

The most disabling stage of gout which occurs after many years, associated with permanent damage to the affected joints and sometimes the kidneys.

Treatment of gout through diet

Gout is treated by taking medications that lower the uric acid levels in your blood and by diet and lifestyle changes (diet and exercise). Gout often occurs with the following conditions. It's important to manage these conditions along with gout:
  • Overweight or obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Genitourinary (urinary and reproductive) diseases

There are 6 food triggers that might exacerbate symptoms:

  1. Alcohol
  2. Protein and organ meat
  3. Sugar and high fructose corn syrup
  4. White refined starches
  5. Unhealthy fats
  6. A diet high in salt

*See your dietician for guidelines on amounts and alternatives.

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