Gout is a metabolic disorder which affects mainly middle aged men (especially the obese ones) and is characterized by the deposition of urinary salts in the joints (it usually affects the feet and hands). This disease is mainly caused by the increase of uric acid in the blood, either due to genetically predetermined purine overproduction or decreased excretion of uric acid or both.
Uric acid is the final product of the decomposition of purines, found in all body tissues and some foods. It is naturally transferred from the blood and excreted in the urine. However, in some people the production of this substance from the body increases and the ability of the kidneys to eliminate it decreases, which leads to the higher concentration of uric acid in the blood and induces the formation of crystals. Patients with type 2 diabetes, obesity, anaemia, and kidney disease have an increased risk of developing gout. Also drugs such as diuretics can affect the excretion of uric acid. In rare cases someone can inherit a reduced ability to metabolize purines and thus may have an increased tendency to develop gout.
Other factors that affect uric acid:
- The abuse of alcohol increases it.
- Pregnancy and the administration of estrogen reduces the level of uric acid in the blood of women.
- Very low calorie diets also cause an increase in the production of this substance, but a gradual weight reduction lowers it.
- Diets containing a very small amount of protein and diets high in fat also lead to increased levels of the substance.
- The intake of fructose has a negative effect.
How to treat gout:
People suffering from gout should consume foods low in purines and should be encouraged to limit or avoid foods high in purines. Purines are mainly contained in protein foods, and consuming them in large quantities ultimately leads to uric acid, when they get metabolized by the human body. So while a typical diet contains 600 to 1000 mg of purines per day, in cases of severe or progressive gout the purine content of the diet should be limited to about 100-150 mg / day.
Foods with high purine content:
- Soy Milk.
- Seafood (octopus, sardines, herring, mackerel, mussels, scallops, trout, anchovies, tuna).
- Goose and duck.
- Beef broth, poultry and most fish.
Foods with moderate level of purine:
- Meat, lean fish, shellfish.
- Beans, lentils, peas, spinach, mushrooms and asparagus.
Foods with low purine content (that can be eaten daily):
- White bread and cereals.
- Macaroni and rice.
- Milk, yogurt and cheese.
- Coffee, soft drinks, tea and cocoa.
- All kinds of fruit.
- Oils, butter, margarine and olives.
- Chocolate, sugar, sweets and honey.
- Salt, vinegar and pickles.