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HEALTHY EATING

Gout Culprits

"Stop Gout with Good Eats"
By: Franz Josephine I. Ferrer, RNDGout Culprits

Gout is caused by having higher than the normal levels of uric acid in the body. This may occur if your body makes too much uric acid or your body is having a hard time getting rid of it. Too much uric acid in the body builds up in the fluid around the joints farthest from the heart, then it crystallizes. The crystals formed are the cause of joint swelling and inflammation.

According to Escott-Stump 2004, gout is a disorder of purine metabolism in which abnormally high levels of uric acid accumulates in the blood; also known as hyperuricemia. Gout arises when hyperuricemia is associated with joint symptoms. It is characterized by the sudden and acute onset of localized arthritic pain that usually begins from the toe and continues up the leg. Some of the symptoms of acute gout are as follows:

  • Pain in only one or a few joints. The big toe, knee, or ankle joints are most often affected.
  • The pain starts suddenly, often during the night, and is described as throbbing, crushing, or excruciating.
  • The joints appear warm and red. They are usually very tender and it hurts to lay even a light blanket over them.
  • Fever may be present.
  • Attacks may last only for a few days but may return from time to time which may last longer than the first attack.
  • Those with chronic gout may develop joint damage and loss of motion in the joints.
  • Chronic gout involves acute gout symptoms but sufferers will experience it most of the time.
  • Tophi may also be present in the helix of the ear, large toe, or the elbow. Tophi are lumps below the skin around the joints or in other places. Tophi usually develop only after the patient has had the disease for many years.

With diet and lifestyle changes, gouty attacks can be prevented. The disorder itself may not be curable, but we may be able to avoid the triggers of the symptoms.

  • Persons with gout should drink 3 liters of water every day. Water assists in the excretion of uric acid and minimize the possibility of kidney stone formation.
  • The diet should be relatively high in carbohydrates, low in fat, and moderate in protein because urate excretion tends to be reduced by fats and enhanced by carbohydrates.
  • For maintenance of the diet, a normal and adequate diet adjusted to achieve and maintain a desirable body weight and to avoid ketosis must be followed.
  • Low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming, ballroom dancing, and stretching are advised but must first be consulted with your physician together with a physical therapist to further individualize your physical activity according to your needs and to prevent further joint injuries and strains.

Some diet and lifestyle changes that may help prevent gouty attacks:

  • Avoid drinking too much alcohol.
  • Reduce purine-rich foods that you usually eat.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight by eating well-balanced meals daily in addition to exercise.
  • If you are losing excess weight, lose it slowly. Quick weight loss may cause uric acid kidney stones to form.
  • Consult your physician, registered nutritionist-dietitian, and physical therapist for proper management of your disease condition. Do not self-medicate.
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