Gout is one of those conditions that you’ve heard of, but probably never experienced yourself. Quite possibly you’ve never even known anybody who suffers from it. It used to be called a rich person’s disease because the only way you could suffer from gout was if you had enough money to buy the rich food that causes it. Gout is basically a term for the inflammation of muscle joints. The swelling can get so bad that just touching the area affected can cause hideous pain. While not considered a rich person’s disease anymore, gout is still relatively rare, affecting roughly 16 out of a thousand people. In a classic episode of King of the Hill, young Bobby Hill suffered a bout with gout as a result of his newfound love for deli food…the chosen food.
Technically, gout is a type of arthritis that occurs as a result of one’s kidney no longer being able to excrete uric acid. Only those with an inherited genetic defect are at risk for developing gout. The pain is caused by the fact that the body naturally swells in an attempt to discharge uric acid crystals that build up in the fluid surrounding the joints. Because the deposits of uric acid crystals build up in patients with gout the result is pain.
A gout attack can strike without warning and are wildly unpredictable. There are a few drugs on the market but most of them come with equally unpleasant side effects. As a result, the best method for dealing with gout remains a change in diet. Since most people who suffer from gout are overweight-or even obese-losing weight is the quickest route to relieving pain. Well, quickest might not be the right word. And the one thing a person with gout doesn’t want to do is go on a starvation diet; rapid weight loss can result in an increase in the levels of uric acid that are causing the pain in the first place. Better to take a gradual approach to weight loss.
It is also one’s dietary choices that bring any discussion of gout back to its plane of existence as disease for only the well-to-do. The idea that gout is exclusive to the rich springs from the fact that many of those foods associated with the wealthy are high in chemicals called purines that are instrumental in the production of uric acid. For instance, caviar, organ meats, shellfish and chocolate. All of these were once associated with high living and all of them increase the production of uric acid. In addition to these, also be careful with beer, wine, and smoke meats. In fact, most doctors will recommend that a patient with gout give these foods and beverages up entirely. Other foods such as mushrooms, leafy greens and certain dry cereals should be consumed in moderation.
The problem with watching one’s diet if one has gout is that usually the patient also suffers from other diseases, such as diabetes or hypertensions. And these conditions also call for strict dietary observances. The result can be a dizzying list of foods that conflict with the various conditions. For that reason, it is highly recommended that anyone suffering from gout consult a professional clinical dietitian in order to make sure they come up with a diet that is balanced for their exact needs.