The rise of gout

By • Published: February 15th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

More people than ever are getting gout. This raises many questions … Why? How can we stop it? Who is at risk?

But most importantly … what the heck is gout?

If the word conjures images of retirees playing shuffleboard, you’re not far off. Generally, gout affects the older set, usually men. The only difference? A person suffering from an attack probably wouldn’t feel up to a game of shuffleboard.

This painful type of arthritis usually strikes the joints in the foot and big toe. The pain comes on suddenly and can linger for days. There’s a good reason why it’s so painful. When too much uric acid builds up in the body, crystals form that make their way to your joints. Uric acid crystals in joints equals pain for you.

Boston University experts say cases of gout have been on the rise in the United States since the 1960s.

One of the main reasons? Rising rates of obesity in the U.S.

Obesity and high blood pressure put people at increased risk for developing gout.

Other studies show that drinking too much sugary soda and even orange juice can increase a woman’s chances of developing the condition. Canadian scientists say the rise in cases over the past several decades mirrors the rise in the popularity of soda.

Your body creates uric acid after you eat certain foods or drinks. Even seemingly healthy foods can contribute to the problem because they contain high levels of purines. These foods include salmon, lobster and asparagus.

People need purines in their diet, but it’s a delicate balance between too much, too little and the proper amount.

Luckily, you can take steps to try to avoid gout. Limit sugary sodas and alcohol and maintain a healthy weight.

Gout is one pain you, and your feet, don’t want to mess with.