What is gout?
Gout is a form of arthritis that leads to sudden and severe joint pain. It happens when high levels of uric acid in the blood cause crystals to develop and collect around the affected joint. It’s usually first felt in your big toe, but can affect your hands, wrists, elbows, knees and feet. When gout effects an area, you can often see the skin around it become hot, swollen and red.
An attack of gout can last 5 to 7 days. After this period, it should get better, but lasting joint damage can occur if you don’t seek immediate help and treatment. As soon as you have any symptoms of a gout attack, contact a doctor for an urgent appointment. A gout diet isn’t a cure or form of treatment, but it can be used to reduce uric acid levels in the blood and to prevent future attacks.
What is Uric acid?
Uric acid is a chemical that is a waste product found in your blood that you usually get rid of when you urinate. This chemical is produced when substances called purines are broken down inside your body. Purines naturally occur in your body, butare also found in certain food and drink.
Most uric acid will dissolve in the blood while the rest will travel to the kidneys for excretion in urine. If too much uric acid is produced or your body doesn’t remove enough of it, it can make you sick. A blood test can be used to test for high levels of uric acid in the blood (called hyperuricemia).
How does food affect gout?
Certain food and drink products contain high levels of purines. Some examples include anchovies, beer, dried beans, liver, mackerel and peas. If you eat and drink a lot of purine-rich food, it could increase the build-up of uric acid in the blood which increases the risk of a gout attack.
As well as preventing gout attacks, a controlled diet could help you lose weight. Being overweight can increase your risk of developing gout and losing weight can lower it. Losing weight can lower levels of uric acid in the blood and reduce strain on the joints.