Gout is a
common type of arthritis caused by a buildup in the body of uric acid,
which is found in meats and some other foods. When the level of uric
acid rises to unhealthy levels in the body, it crystallizes in the
joint cartilage and synovial tissue and fluid, causing sharp,
needle-like pain in the joints, as well as fever, chills, and loss of
The condition is primarily a disease of men over age 30. In at least
half of gout cases, the first attack is characterized by intense pain
in the first joint of the big toe. If the attack progresses, fever and
chills will appear, Initial gout attacks usually strike at night and
are preceded by a specific event such as excessive
alcohol ingestion, trauma, certain drugs, or surgery. Kidney stones and
other kidney problems are present in 90% of gout sufferers, because
urate crystals also accumulate in the kidneys.
Dietary treatment for gout sufferers is intended to reduce the
production of uric acid to normal levels. Patients should eliminate
alcohol intake, which both increases uric acid production and reduces
uric acid excretion in the kidneys.
sufferers should also maintain a low-purine diet, which completely
omits organ meats, shellfish, yeast, herring, sardines, mackerel, and
anchovies. Foods with moderate levels of purines, including dried
legumes, spinach, asparagus, fish, poultry, and mushrooms, should also
should be on alkaline-forming foods
such as vegetables.
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