Gout and Diet

What Is Gout?

Gout is a disease that results when crystals of uric acid form in tissues of the body. Gout is characterized by an overload of uric acid in the body and recurring attacks of joint inflammation (arthritis). Chronic gout can lead not only arthritis, but hard lumps of uric acid in and around the joints, decreased kidney function, and kidney stones. Gouty arthritis is usually an extremely painful attack with a rapid onset of joint inflammation. The inflammation is precipitated by the deposition of uric acid crystals in the lining of the joint (synovial lining) and the fluid within the joint. Intense joint inflammation occurs when white blood cells engulf the crystals of uric acid and release chemicals that promote inflammation. The resulting inflammation causes pain, heat, and redness of the joint.

Diet's Relationship to Gout

Research from Harvard Medical School reported the results of a national study of 14,809 participants, ages 20 years and older, that looked at the relationship between levels of meat, seafood, and dairy intake and levels of uric acid in the blood. The results of this 6 year study (1988-1994) were published in the medical journal Arthritis & Rheumatism 2005; 52:283-89. The results clearly demonstrated that the blood uric acid levels increased with increasing meat or seafood intake and decreased with increasing dairy intake. Those who consumed milk one or more times per day had lower blood uric acid levels than those who did not drink milk. Moreover, those who consumed yogurt at least once every other day, had a lower blood uric acid than those who did not.

Preliminary results of his landmark study were presented at the National Arthritis Meeting in late 2004 (American College of Rheumatology). In fact, MedicineNet reported these results from the meeting in October of 2004. As I noted then, the researchers from Boston found that fruits or vegetables did not have an affect on the risk of developing gout. It looks like it is time for more milk!

"Prevention of recurrent gout: Lifestyle modification and other strategies for risk reduction"