Gout is regarded as a form of arthritis. It affects 0.5% of the world population and can be a hereditary ailment.
Gout is typified by an accumulation of uric acid crystals that tend to collect in areas of the body where the temperature is lower. It is predominantly seen in the big toes, but other body parts may be affected.
Uric acid is produced when the body breaks down purines, substances naturally found in the body and in many foods. Excess uric acid causes the formation of uric acid crystals in the body, and can be caused by inadequate elimination of uric acid by the kidneys, overproduction of uric acid in the body or high intake of purine-rich food sources.
Symptoms of gout develop quickly and typically occur in only one joint at a time. Gout usually develops in the big toe joint, but the disease can also affect the ankle or knee.
Common symptoms include the following:
Genetics: approximately 1 in 4 people with gout have a family history of the disease. In addition a genetic disease called Lesch-Nyhan syndrome causes a defect in how the body processes purines. This leads to excess production of purines, which in turn causes the high uric acid levels implicated in gout.
High purine diet: regular overindulgence or steady consumption of purine-rich foods can greatly increase the load of uric acid the body has to process. If the body is unable to properly excrete the excess uric acid, the small uric acid crystals that cause gout may start to form.
If you have a family history of gout or are a current sufferer, Smart Nutrition can can give you expert advice on how to alter your diet to reduce uric acid load and recommend particular foods, herbs and supplements that will help your body to eliminate the build up of uric acid. Please use the button at the bottom of the page to find out more.
Dehydration: the kidneys are responsible for removing uric acid from the blood, a process which is heavily reliant on water. Consequently, dehydration can precipitate a gout flare-up and exacerbate sufferer’s symptoms.
Dehydration can occur for many reasons including simply not drinking enough, sweating, using diuretics and drinking lots of caffeinated drinks or alcohol.
Nutrient deficiencies: several vitamin deficiency states may directly or indirectly lead to muscle cramps. For example, a deficiency in calcium or magnesium leads to higher levels of uric acid in the blood.
A NutrEval MOT Health Test gives you a comprehensive overview of nutrient status and can be used to target key deficiencies that may be exacerbating your symptoms. Smart Nutrition can also use your test results to provide diet and supplement recommendations to help you manage your condition and boost any possible nutrient deficiencies.
Heavy metal toxicity: recent research indicates that lead poisoning may be a factor in the development of gout. Lead toxicity interferes with the hormones that control blood potassium levels, and the resulting potassium deficiency then leads to high uric acid levels in the blood.
Lead toxicity can be identified by a Hair Mineral Analysis or a Urine Test. If your lead levels are found to be high, Smart Nutrition can advise you on a suitable detoxification regime.
Medications: certain drugs can reduce the body’s ability to remove uric acid or interfere with blood potassium levels. These include medications such as diuretics, salicylates eg aspirin, insulin, antibiotics and the Parkinson’s drug levodopa.
If you regularly use these pharmaceuticals and suffer from gout, Smart Nutrition may be able to help you deal with the underlying problems, reducing your need for medication.
Chemotherapy: chemotherapy leads to the destruction of large numbers of cells – both cancerous ones and our own body cells. Since purines are an integral part of all cells, large scale cell destruction creates a high purine turnover and an increase in uric acid. If the body if unable to excrete this extra uric acid, gout can develop.