Health & FitnessUnderstanding Gout: Triggers, Risks, and Prevention Strategies

Understanding Gout: Triggers, Risks, and Prevention Strategies

Gout is a form of arthritis we don’t really associate with people too much anymore. It’s known as a the disease of the kings due to its association with rich foods and alcohol consumption, but it’s still very much in the mainstream.

We can often dismiss the idea we’ve got gout as a result of this though, but around two in every 100 people suffer from it in the UK, including in younger people. It’s the result of a uric acid disturbance and can often manifest itself in excruciating pain in the big toe or foot.

But how exactly do we get it? Here are five key reasons…

Dietary Habits

Source: Moultrie County Health Department

Dietary habits are one of the main reasons why people develop gout and trigger outbreaks of it. Foods that are high in purines can lead to this as they are broken down by the body into uric acid. High levels of this can lead to the formation of urate crystals in the joints, which is where gout attacks come from.

Foods such as red meat, organ meats like liver and kidney, shellfish, certain types of fish and beers can increase the risk of gout flare ups.

Excess Weight or Obesity

Being overweight is another significant risk as excess body weight can lead to higher levels of uric acid in the bloodstream. Alongside this, insulin resistance may also impair the body’s ability to excrete uric acid efficiently.

As well as weight, the risks of high blood pressure, diabetes and metabolic syndrome that many people who struggle with their weight have can also increase the risk of gout. Losing weight through healthy eating and regular exercise can help reduce the risk of gout.

Genetic Predisposition

It may well be that genetic factors are causing you to develop gout. People with a family history of gout are more likely to develop the condition, suggesting a genetic predisposition to elevated uric acid levels.

While there may be a familial risk, people can still be proactive in managing the risk by living a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle.

Medical Conditions

Underlying medical conditions can also contribute to the development of gout. Kidney disease, diabetes, hypertension and metabolic syndome can all impair the body’s ability to excrete uric acid, leaving elevated levels in the bloodstream.

What’s more, some medications can also increase the risk, such as diuretics as it can reduce the excretion or increase production of uric acid.

Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol Consumption
Source: Vox

Finally, excessive alcohol consumption, particularly of beer and spirits is strongly associated with the increased risk of gout. Alcohol can interfere with the elimination of uric acid while beer is also high in purines.

Alcoholics can often suffer with gout, so if you are struggling to manage your intake of alcohol it could be worth seeking help from an alcohol rehab as gout can be just one of a host of chronic health risks that can occur as a result of heavy drinking and alcohol addiction.

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