About Gout

I’ve recently been diagnosed with a mild case of Gout. Yes, the “rich man’s disease” as it was called historically. Truth is, gout can afflict anyone. It’s caused by elevated levels of uric acid in the blood which crystallize and deposits in joints, tendons and its surrounding tissues.

Here are ten interesting facts about gout:

  • The occurrence of gout is partly genetic. In fact, dietary causes only account for roughly 12% of all cases.
  • Uric acid is created when the body breaks down purine nucleotides. Purine exists in ALL food, though their levels differ greatly so it’s near-impossible to completely eliminate purine unless you eat plastic or lightbulbs (i.e. anything that doesn’t originate from a living thing).
  • High purine foods: meat, meat products, internal organs like liver or kidney, sweetbread, anchovies, sardines, brains, meat extracts, salmon, herring, mackerel, scallop, game meats (including duck), gravy, bean curd, strawberry, durian, tomatoes and alcohol.
  • Moderate purine foods: beef, pork, poultry, other fish and seafood, asparagus, cauliflower, spinach, mushroom, peas, lentils, beans, oatmeal, wheat bran, wheat germ and hawthorne.
  • Vitamin C and coffee (not tea) are both associated with lower gout risk.
  • High fructose drinks and alcohol are both associated with higher gout risk.
  • Fasting or rapid weight loss can also cause gout due to sudden spike in uric acid levels.
  • Gout affects 1-2% of the Western population. Rates are high for the Maori of New Zealand but rare in Australia aborigines.
  • Gout is rare in other animals due to their ability to produce uricase, which breaks down uric acid. Humans and great apes have lost that ability, so chimpanzees, orang utans, gorillas and bonobos could also be afflicted.
  • Sue, the famous Tyrannosaurus Rex specimen is believed to have suffered from gout.

While I try to manage my consumption of purine-rich foods, I’m not about to give all these up completely. I love my food too much and would rather have gout than live with depression from the lack of bak kut teh.

(Source: Wikipedia. Image: James Gillray, 1799)

About Gout