Fortunately, gout can be controlled. People with gout can decrease the severity of attacks and reduce their risk of future attacks by taking their medications as prescribed. Acute gout is best controlled if medications are taken at the first sign of pain or inflammation. Other steps you can take to stay healthy and minimize gout's effect on your life include the following:
- Tell your doctor about all the medicines and vitamins you take. He or she can tell you if any of them increase your risk of hyperuricemia.
- Plan followup visits with your doctor to evaluate your progress.
- Drink plenty of nonalcoholic fluids, especially water. Nonalcoholic fluids help remove uric acid from the body. Alcohol, on the other hand, can raise the levels of uric acid in your blood.
- Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy body weight. Lose weight if you are overweight, but avoid low-carbohydrate diets that are designed for quick weight loss. When carbohydrate intake is insufficient, your body can't completely burn its own fat. As a consequence, substances called ketones form and are released into the bloodstream, resulting in a condition called ketosis. After a short time, ketosis can increase the level of uric acid in your blood.
- Avoid foods that are high in purines.
Can Losing Weight Help My Gout?
If you are overweight, gradual loss of weight will help you reduce the level of uric acid in your blood and reduce the stress on weight-bearing joints e.g. hips, knees, ankles, feet. However, it is important to avoid any type of crash dieting, as going without food for long periods and rapid loss of weight can increase uric acid levels and trigger painful gout attacks. A combination of balanced healthy eating and regular physical activity is the best way to lose weight safely and maintain your weight at an optimum.
Gout and Alcohol
Drinking alcohol can increase your risk of developing gout and can bring on a sudden attack if you are already a gout sufferer. Alcohol can raise the level of uric acid in the blood in a number of ways and so trigger a gout attack. Many beers contain large quantities of purines from the fermenting process and alcohol stimulates the production of uric acid by the liver. More importantly, however, alcohol is converted in the body to lactic acid which interferes with the removal of uric acid from the body by the kidneys. Additionally, the combination of heavy drinking and going without food for long periods can lead to the production of ketones, the chemicals that make your breath smell sour the morning after an alcoholic binge, and these have a similar effect on the kidneys. See UK Gout Society for more information and diet recommendations.
In principle, you should try to reduce your intake of foods which are known to have a high purine content. Uric acid is formed from purines which are found in many foods.
High purine foods include:
- Meat - particularly red meat and offal, such as liver and kidneys heart and sweetbreads
- Game - for example, pheasant, rabbit, venison
- Seafood - especially mussels, crab, shrimps and other shellfish, anchovies, herring, mackerel, sardines, sprats, whitebait trout, fish roe, caviar
- Yeast containing foods and beverages such as Marmite and beer.
A moderate amount of purine is also contained in beef, pork, poultry, fish and seafood, asparagus, cauliflower, spinach, mushrooms, green peas, lentils, dried peas, beans, oatmeal, wheat bran and wheat germ.