Gout is a common form of arthritis caused by uric acid crystal deposits in the joints, primarily in the smaller bones of the feet and hands. An acute gout attack can cause sudden pain, tenderness, redness and swelling around the joints. Historically, gout is known as the “rich man’s disease” or “disease of kings” from overindulgence in food and wine.
In modern day, risk factors such as certain medications (e.g. diuretic medications or “water pills”), obesity, crash diet, a high purine diet and excessive alcohol intake predispose one to gout. Purine is a chemical that is found naturally in the body and in certain foods. It is broken down into uric acid which is then passed in the urine. When your diet is rich in purine, this can cause excess uric acid to build up leading to gout.
• Here are some recommendations to reduce your risk of developing gout:
• Avoid high purine food such as:
• Limit intake of red meat such as beef, pork and lamb and choose poultry and fish (except those mentioned in the chart). As poultry and fish contain some purine, 1-2 palm size a day can be part of a healthy diet.
• Avoid soft drinks and commercial high fructose fruit juice. Fructose is a natural sugar that is broken down into purine. It is advisable to eat whole fruit rather than fruit juice as fruit juice contains a higher concentration of fructose compared to whole fruit.
• Drink at least 8 glasses of water daily and more on humid days as dehydration can increase your risk of gout attack (unless you are advised to limit your fluid intake by medical professional). If you are having a gout attack, ensure you consume at least 2 litre of water per day to flush out the uric acid from your body.
• Avoid rapid weight loss or crash diet as rapid break down of body tissues can increase uric acid level and trigger painful gout attack. Gradual weight loss (2-4 kg a month) through healthy diet and physical activity is the best way to lose weight safely.
Lifestyle changes are important for managing gout. By staying hydrated, maintaining a healthy body weight and following a low purine diet, you can help reduce your risk of developing gout attacks.