What Causes Gout?
Next to being male, being overweight is the second biggest risk for developing gout.
Maintaining a healthy weight is important for managing gout. If you are overweight or obese, now’s the time to start that diet and exercise regimen. This helps to reduce uric acid and metabolic waste product in the body.
So, what does weight have to do with risk? Well, obesity has been linked to high blood pressure, kidney disease, and diabetes. These comorbidities are all linked to higher production of uric acid and less efficiency in excreting them.
Also, people who are obese tend to consume fructose excessively, particularly the super unhealthy kind called high fructose corn syrup. These chronic toxins wreak havoc on the body limiting its ability to remove uric acid. By being overweight, not only do you increase your risk for developing gout, but you’re also likely to experience frequent attacks.
Obesity is not something that happens in an instant. It’s an accumulation of unhealthy habits done for an extended period of time. This can make losing weight very hard. Just as you gained weight gradually, you should also be losing weight gradually. Rapid weight loss can be a cause for gout attacks. You want to set realistic goals and adjust them accordingly until you reach a normal healthy weight.
High Purine Food
Uric acid is a result of purines breaking down in the body. Naturally, when you consume too much of it, your uric acid levels rise resulting in a possible gout attack. You want to control the amount of high-purine foods you eat. This includes certain seafood, red meat, organ meats, sugary drinks, processed junk food, and alcohol.
But what about fruits and vegetables? Don’t they have purines too? Yes.
Certain produce such as asparagus, spinach, cauliflower, apples, and pears are high purines, but their benefits often trump the uric acid factor. Purines were not made equal at all. It’s more beneficial to eat plant purines than to avoid them altogether.
Red meat, organ meats and certain kinds of seafood, however, are a different story. Dr. Choi's research found that animal purines have a more negative impact on gout compared to plant purines.
As much as possible, you want to limit your consumption of these items to a few times each month:
- Beef kidneys
- Game meats
- Foods high in saturated fats
- Food and drinks with high fructose corn syrup
- Yeasty foods
Gout is a metabolic condition that makes it hard for the body to process uric acid. Therefore, you should limit your consumption of purine-rich foods.
The common denominator in these foods is that they are very high in protein, which when metabolized can produce ammonia, urea, and waste products. This takes more work for the kidneys to flush out uric acid compared to carbs.
Alcohol has long been a suspected factor for gout. In recent decades, they confirmed that alcohol does indeed affect one’s risk for this disease. Alcohol, especially beer, is known to be very high in purines. This takes a toll on your kidneys as it requires more work to filter out alcohol. Instead of excreting uric acid, it works to rid the body of alcohol leaving excess uric acid to build up in your joints. Also, alcohol raises nucleotides which turn into more uric acid.
If you find yourself drinking alcohol excessively, now might be the best time to talk to a physician. They might even have you evaluated for alcohol addiction in which case, and you will need to work with an addiction specialist who can help you take the right steps to quit drinking alcohol.
Even if you only drink moderately, you should still be paying close attention to your symptoms. Individual gout sufferers who reward themselves for being “good” find themselves in agony from a gout flare the day after celebrating with a glass of beer. Young people are not safe either. Beer, being their go-to drink, can lead to gout when consumed in high amounts.
Of course, everyone is different. For some, it takes days of consistent alcohol consumption before they experience an attack while others are unfortunate that one pint affects them. Learn how much alcohol affects your gout and keep your consumption under that amount. And don’t forget to drink water in between pints! Drinking causes dehydration which is another gout risk.
It also helps to look at what is in your alcohol. Some manufacturers add high fructose corn syrup, coloring, and other harmful chemicals to their products.