London: Consuming a Western diet can increase the risk of developing gout, a new study suggests. Researchers have discovered that people are more likely to have a painful condition if they indulge in red and processed meats, soft drinks, French fries, sugar, sweets, and desserts.
However, they also found that a diet rich in fruit, veg, nuts, and whole grains may protect against gout. Research on 44,000 men found eating these types of foods in preference to red meat could prevent the crippling condition. The team from Harvard Medical School in the US believe they help lower levels of a chemical called uric acid which causes gout.
Gout Causes, Symptoms and Treat Uric Acid
They hope the findings could lead to a new treatment for gout based on a diet of fruit, nuts, and whole grains. Gout is a form of arthritis that affects about half a million adults in the UK or 4 percent of the population. It occurs when small crystals form inside the joints causing sudden attacks of severe pain and swelling.
The condition is most common in men over 30 or women after the menopause. It is caused by a build-up of uric acid which forms tiny crystals near the joints. But today’s study suggests that fruit, veg, nuts, and whole grains contain powerful ingredients to prevent this build-up.
Dr. Hyon Choi looked at the records of 44,444, men aged 40 to 75 who had never been diagnosed with gout. They all completed detailed food questionnaires and were given scores based on how much fruit, veg, nuts, and wholegrains they ate.
The men were followed for the next 26 years over which time 1,731 were diagnosed with gout. Those with the highest scores who ate the most fruit, veg and wholegrains were 32 percent less likely to be diagnosed with gout.
The findings of the study are not conclusive and the scientists cannot be certain that these foods prevent gout. But Dr. Choi said that a high fruit and wholegrain diet ‘may provide an attractive preventive dietary approach for the risk of gout.’ He said this would also prevent high blood pressure – which affects many gout patients- thereby treating two birds with one stone.
A spokesman for the UK Gout Society said: ‘Gout is excruciatingly painful and left untreated it can cause irreversible damage to the joints. While diet and lifestyle are important, it is only a small contributor to the likelihood of getting the condition.
‘Other important risk factors for gout include family history and genetics, being overweight, taking certain medicines, diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, heart disease, kidney problems and, in some cases, crash dieting. ‘If you think you have got it’s vital you go and visit your doctor as gout is eminently treatable.’ The study was published in the British Medical Journal last night.