My fight with Gout, historically referred to as the Disease of Kings,1 started early in 2012. I was 31 years of age, just married, super gungho about life. One morning, I woke up with sharp pains in my left big toe and all around my left ankle. All my years of convenient meals finally caught up to me. The exercise routines, avoiding soda pop, generally healthy habits did not seem to matter in comparison to my diet.
I consulted my father who has also suffered from gout in the past, albeit at a much later stage in life. I took his advice and took daily the following:
After 1 week, my gout was stabilized and could walk without crutches. However, to get back to the level of physical activity I was accustomed to, that took 3 months of meticulous eating habits. I had to steer clear of certain purine-rich foods.
So what exactly is Gout? WebMD describes Gout as “a kind of arthritis that is caused by a buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints. Uric acid is a breakdown product of purines that are part of many foods we eat. An abnormality in handling uric acid and crystallization of these compounds in joints can cause painful arthritis, kidney stones, and blockage of the kidney filtering tubules with uric acid crystals, leading to kidney failure.”
We are no longer just talking about walking, we are talking about our kidneys, which along with the liver are the chemical factories in the human body, responsible for the removal of toxins. We simply can’t live without the liver or the kidneys.
Upon further investigation, I learned that not all purines are created equal. Choi’s seminal work published in 2004,2 which involved a 12 year study investigating new cases of gout among 47,150 men, determined that:
Despite the fact that little is known about the exact purine content in most foods, especially when cooked or processed, this study highlights the urgent need to avoid high levels of meat and seafood consumption.
Here are the recommendations from the Mayo Clinic:
Being more conscious of the food choices I make, and taking my diet one meal at a time, my gout attacks seem to be less frequent and painful. Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor are my eating habits. But nothing beats having a clear roadmap to a better life.
In Good Health,
Joe Su, PhD