September 13, 2017 3 min read

If you are proud of being that person who often fasts to stay slim, or a foodie who lives to eat, then think again. Increased breakdown of body cells during fasting or excessive consumption of purine-rich diet can raise the levels of uric acid in your body, causing Gout, a form of arthritis.


Gout is the most common metabolic illness associated with diet and nutrition. It is prevalent in men affecting 5-27 per 1000 men. It is rare in pre-menopausal women and children (unless born with a genetic defect).

Excessive levels of uric acid in the blood forms urate crystals, that accumulate in joints, causing inflammation. The high levels of uric acid may be caused due to several factors:

  • Obesity.
  • Excessive consumption of a Purine (that degrades into uric acid) rich diet e.g. meat, sea food, cauliflower, broccoli etc.
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol.
  • Impaired kidney function that leads to poor excretion of uric acid from the body.
  • Total fasting.
  • Cancer, diabetes, sickle cell disease, hypothyroidism, certain types of anaemia.
  • Consumption of drugs such as Aspirin, diuretics, cancer and AIDS treating drugs, Tuberculosis drugs (ethambutol, pyrazinamide) etc.
  • Dehydration.

infographic on the causes of gout in the elderly


A Gout patient may experience a sharp pain along with redness, swelling and stiffness usually in his big toe, but occasionally also in knees, fingers, wrists or ankles. The pain shows up typically on cold nights. With or without treatment, the pain may subside 2 or 3 days later, only to return after few months or years in some patients.

If left untreated, (even if there are no further symptoms) you may develop chronic Gout, with deformed joints. Urate crystals may deposit under the skin as gouty tophi (movable lumps) usually in the ears, fingers, and toes. Eventually, the lump grows and interferes with normal living. The excessive uric acid in the blood may also cause kidney stones.

How can I get it diagnosed?

Your physician may examine your joints and discuss your symptoms. Samples of your blood and the fluid from your joint may also be tested for uric acid crystals.



Apart from medication, shifting to a diet plan, that includes:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs other than Aspirin and medication to reduce uric acid in your blood.
  • Avoid purine-rich diet, sugary drinks and alcohol.
  • Reduce your weight.
  • Take lots of non-alcoholic fluids, preferably water.
  • Rest the joint, apply ice and keep the joint elevated.
  • Use appropriate joint braces to compress the affected area.
  • Exercise to relieve pain and stay fit


When it comes to Gout, prevention is definitely better than cure. Unless you suffer from associated diseases or have a congenital kidney failure, preventing Gout is not too hard.

  1. Maintain a healthy weight. If you need to reduce weight, make sure not to fast or take up extreme weight loss programs, as they may increase uric acid in your blood.
  2. Stay hydrated. Drink lots of fluids like water, coffee (known to reduce uric acid) or drinks rich in vitamin C such as lemon juice.
  3. Eat meat, sea food & alcohol in moderation, if they are hard to avoid. Try going vegetarian. Vegetables, fruits, low fat milk are known to lower uric acid.
  4. Exercise and stay physically active.


Gout is a lifestyle disease that can be managed well with reasonable self-care. It is one of the very few health conditions which can be treated with mindful choice of food, assisted with medicines. What the famous Greek physician Hippocrates puts it ‘let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food’ holds true even in modern times, and especially for Gout.

By Sai Ratna Manjari

Guest Author & Technical Researcher


Gout, Arthritis India | Out with Gout,The Telegraph | Gout - What Increases Your Risk,

WebMD | Gout Self Care, Arthritis Foundation

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