Posted on 6 Dec 2014

What is Gout and How Do you Prevent It

Gout is the build-up of uric acid in the blood that can be deposited in the extremities such as the small bones in the feet. It is a type of arthritis and is most common in the big toe joint, but can occur in other joints. It is characterised by the sudden onset of pain, swelling, and redness in a joint. This is sometimes known as a gout attack and can last from 3 to 10 days. Once the gout attack is over the joint should return to normal.

Can your lifestyle increase the risk of gout? The answer to this is yes lifestyle can play an important role in the chances of developing gout. Men are more likely to develop gout than women, but unfortunately the older you are the more risk there is for both sexes. Of course as with most things weight does increase the risk, as does high blood pressure and diabetes. The condition also tends to run in families. A diet rich in purines, such as eating high levels of sardines and liver, and drinking beer or sprits, are also risk factors.

What foods should I avoid? Purine is a naturally occurring substances in foods, however some foods should be avoided. Some meat based products such as kidneys, tongue and tripe, known as organ meats, contain the highest levels of purine. Seafood and fish also contain high levels of purines. Sugar, beer and spirits should be avoided, and vegetables such as asparagus should be limited to just 2 servings a week.

What are the complications of gout? High levels of uric acid in the body can lead to kidney stones, firm lumps under the skin which can be small to large, and permanent joint damage. Changes in lifestyle can reduce the risk of developing gout or at least reduce the frequency of gout attacks.

How can I reduce the risk of gout? As with most health problems the first point would be to reduce any excess weight. A rapid loss of weight can increase the uric acid in the blood stream therefore a gradual and safe weight loss is desirable. Reduce alcohol intake, drinking in moderation is always advisable. Stay hydrated, experts advise at least 2 litres per day, more if you are exercising regularly. A balanced and healthy diet will optimise weight loss, include at least five portions of fruit and vegetables, low in purine, a day. Wholegrain rice, bread, and pasta contain more nutrients and fibre than processed grains and a moderate amount of meat, fish, dairy products, and eggs is desirable.

What exercises can I do? Low impact aerobic exercise such as walking, swimming and cycling can be achieved in the early stages of your lifestyle change. Start slowing and gradually increase the duration of each exercise to 30 to 40 minutes 5 times a week. Flexibility can be improve by studying yoga or Pilates and balance can be improved by Tai Chi.


Health and Fitness Advice by FitFarms Editorial Team

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