LiveSmart: Do you have gout? Lifestyle changes can bring relief
Hippocrates called gout “the disease of kings”. And Benjamin Franklin in his essay, Dialogue between Franklin and gout, protested that the disease unfairly classified him as a “glutton and a drinker”.
Of the 8.3 million Americans who currently suffer from gout, most would object to being called “king”, “glutton” or “drinker.” But there is no doubt that lifestyle has an effect on gout.
Gout is a form of arthritis that occurs nine times more frequently in men than in women, with a median age of 60 years for initial onset. It’s usually associated with a sore, throbbing big toe that wakes people up at night.
The disease can also affect young people and women (the latter, usually after menopause). And, although the big toe is the site about 75 percent of the time, redness, pain, and swelling can occur in the joints of the feet, ankles, knees, hands, or wrists.
The underlying cause of gout is excess uric acid, a waste, in the blood. This can happen either because the body is producing too much or because the kidneys excrete too little. Uric acid is produced when the body breaks down the purines found in red meat, organ meats, shrimp, anchovies, herring, asparagus, and mushrooms.
Beer and, to a lesser extent, alcohol have also been found to increase uric acid levels and the risk of gout. Even more potent is the increased risk in people consuming soft drinks sweetened with sugar or high fructose corn syrup.
It was Franklin’s lifestyle rich diet and lack of activity that likely led to what is now known as metabolic syndrome – abdominal obesity, high triglycerides, high blood sugar, high blood pressure and insulin resistance. Metabolic syndrome is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease, and these two conditions have been linked to high uric acid levels and gout.
So if gout wakes you up at night, as it did with Benjamin Franklin, now is the time to have a conversation with your health care provider. Some simple lifestyle changes can combat this very treatable condition while helping you improve your overall health.
St. Peter’s Health Partners Medical Associates has over 665 advanced physicians and practitioners, located in over 100 practice locations across the Capital Region. We work with our patients and their loved ones to provide high quality, compassionate care and advanced treatment options in a supportive and healing environment.
We know that good care starts with the right doctor. For many, this means working closely with a trusted primary care physician, someone who can provide basic care, with a focus on wellness and prevention. For others, it means seeing a specialist for a specific problem or concern. To find a healthcare professional who will meet your needs, visit https://www.sphp.com/medical-associates/ and click on “Find a doctor”.