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One in thirty Canadians has gout, which typically appears between the ages of 30-50 years for men and post menopause for women. Men are four times more likely than women to develop gout.
What is gout?
Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis that is caused by a build up of uric acid crystals in the joints. Acute gout attacks can be described as very sharp pain often in the big toe or heel, ankle or instep. This can be as a result of alcohol intake, a high purine rich diet, medications, surgery, heart attack, menopause or trauma. It is important to seek medical care and watch your diet so that gout attacks do not become recurring since this can cause permanent joint damage and increase the risk of heart disease.
What is the treatment for gout?
Treatment usually involves medication prescribed by your doctor as well as rest and ice.
Long term prevention of future gout attacks involves the following lifestyle changes:
1. Weight loss if you are overweight
Higher weights increases the risk of high uric acid levels and gout and weight loss has been shown to decrease uric acid levels.
2. Reduce purine-containing foods
Reduce purine containing foods to small portions since they are broken down into uric acid in the body. Purine rich foods include meat (beef, pork, lamb, game), seafood (anchovies, tuna, sardines, lobster, scallops, shrimp, herring, mackerel) and organ meats.
3. Reduce alcohol intake and pop
Ethanol interferes with excretion of uric acid leading to more build up in the body. Beer in particular (unlike wine and spirits) increases uric acid levels and gout risk the most since it also contains purines. High levels of fructose from pop and excessive fruit juice consumption can increase the risk of gout.
4. Drink more water and enjoy some coffee
Drink 2-3 litres of water per day to help excrete uric acid in the urine. A few cups of coffee per day can reduce uric acid levels and reduce gout.
5. Add more dairy foods
Include 2-3 cups of milk or other dairy foods since research has shown this reduces uric acid and lowers the risk of gout.
6. Boost your vitamin C intake
Vitamin C is thought to protect against gout by reducing uric acid levels. Choose vitamin C rich foods such as citrus fruits, melon, strawberries, kiwis, tomatoes, canned tomatoes, broccoli and peppers. Consider a vitamin C supplement as an extra boost.