4 Gout Triggers to Avoid

Gout. It sounds like one of those words that should be relegated to the pages of a Charles Dickens novel — not like an illness in the 21st century. Yet if you’ve suffered from gout pain, you know the intensity and reality of it. Medicine has come a long way in determining the causes of gout, which will help you to be able to control and prevent it.

4 Foods to Avoid In Order to Prevent Gout

What Is Gout?

It’s important to know your enemy in order to defeat it. Gout is a form of joint inflammation caused by a build-up of uric acid in the body. Although uric acid occurs naturally in the body, when there’s too much, it starts to crystallize in and around joints, causing the excruciating pain of gout. While it has been said that a rich diet can cause gout, learning the specific triggers can help you know exactly what foods to avoid.

1. Alcohol

It’s no surprise — even in the 19th century they had figured out this connection. Characters in Dickens’ novels who regularly and excessively partook of port and sherry were frequently targets of gout. Research today has proven that regular alcohol consumption doubles the risk in men and triples the risk in women for developing gout. Beer and hard liquors are the worst culprits.

These alcohols contain high levels of purines, which are converted to uric acid. Researchers also believe that alcohol inhibits the body’s ability to excrete uric acid, causing it to build up and crystallize in joints. Whatever the case, the point is clear — avoiding alcohol can help prevent gout.

2. Chicken, Beef, and Other Meats

For meat lovers this may be very hard to hear, but animal meat is a very high source of purines, leading to excess uric acid. Each additional average daily serving of meat increases the risk of gout by 21%. This makes it crucial that gout-sufferers decrease their daily meat intake.

A special note should be given to organ meats, which seem to be even more dangerous for gout sufferers. Organ meats contain by far the greatest amount of purines. These foods include liver (such as used in foie gras), brain, heart, kidneys, and pate.

3. Soft Drinks and Fruit Juice

These beverages contain two different kinds of sugars — glucose and fructose. These two sugars behave differently in the body — glucose molecules are metabolized in the cells and fructose in the liver. Studies show that uric acid is a byproduct of fructose metabolization, and therefore leads to increased uric acid levels and gout. Soft drinks and fruit juice have the greatest amount of added sugar (fructose), and thus should be avoided in order to prevent gout.

In a study of 46,000 men, researchers found that drinking two or more soft drinks per day increased the likelihood of gout by 85% — so no matter what the science, there is a definite link between these drinks and gout.

4. Aspirin and Diuretics

While not exactly a food, these are very important to keep in mind when fighting the battle against gout. Research has shown that low doses of aspirin inhibit the excretion of uric acid from the body, while higher doses promote uric acid excretion. Therefore, people taking low-dose aspirin to prevent heart disease may be retaining more uric acid and adding to their problem of gout.

Diuretics, which are usually used to treat high blood pressure, have also been known to trigger gout. Because of the fact that diuretics make you urinate more, they decrease the amount of fluid in your body. The amount of fluid that is left, however, is more concentrated and may lead to uric acid crystallization, causing gout.

Before changing any medication regimen, it is important to consult with your doctor. More than anything, it is good to know what triggers may affect you, so you can avoid them if possible or weigh them in the balance when making a decision.

If you’ve suffered from gout, you know how severe the pain can be at times. Prevention is the number one weapon you have at your disposal. Knowing and avoiding your triggers is the first step to enjoying a pain-free life again.

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