|by Meshack omari Onderi|
|Published on: Jun 4, 2005|
|Gout is painful but very common condition, especially among the people who eat a lot of red meat and wash it down with lots of alcohol.
What is gout? Gout is caused by uric acid crystals that form in the joints, causing painful swellings. Uric acid is ordinarily dissolved in blood and excreted through the kidneys into the urine. However, in the case of people with gout, the uric acid level increases and uric acid crystals are deposited in joints and other tissues. These needle shaped crystals trigger an immune response that produces intense inflammation, with severe pain, tenderness and swelling, especially of the lower limbs, notably the big toe. (Oops! My big toe has these qualities but I don’t suffer from gout!)
After several years, uric acid crystals can build up in the joint(s) and surrounding tissues and form deposits that appear as firm lumps under the skin. These lumps are often found in or near severely affected joints, or near the elbow, on the fingers and toes, and on the outer edge of the ear.
Uric acid crystals can also form stones in the kidney, the urethra or the bladder. They can increase blood pressure and put one at risk of kidney disease. These stones are formed when the concentration of uric acid is high, often as a result of low water intake and diuretics.
Fortunately, gout can be managed by dieting. Some of these methods are:
• Reduce intake of proteins, especially from red meat. Gout suffering people should restrict themselves to little meat diet; palm size piece of meat not more than three times a weak. When uric acid is very concentrated, it is advisable to stop eating red meat all together while controlling the amount of white meat consumed.
• Avoid organ meats/visceral like offal, kidney, liver and heart, as well as spinach, lentils, herring and pork products especially processed.
• Take foods rich in vitamin C, which has been shown to increase urinary excretion of uric acid. Foods rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits (lemons, lime, oranges, tangerines, mangoes and pineapple) as well as as fruits with lower citrate levels like grapes, grapefruits, apples, and bananas.
• Drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids such as fruit juices, tea and water. Taking more water than the usually advised 1.3 to1.9 litres/eight glasses per day is particularly useful as it helps to dilute the urine and promote excretion of uric acid through continuous flushing of the kidneys.
• If one suffers from hypertension/high blood pressure and he/she has high uric acid levels, this might get his/her pressure out of control. Thus, one has to be more serious about following the medication prescription from the doctor and dietary advice. Hypertensive patients who eat nyama choma - Kiswahili name for charcoal roasted meat in Africa and Asia, and beer should get their uric acid levels checked, particularly if they have a history of hypertension in the family/if its hereditary.
• Consult your nutritionist or dietician for advice on the foods to avoid.
Hope you had a healthy and knowledgeable reading!