Fructose fuels gout

Gout is a painful condition and its incidence is on the increase. If you are worried about developing gout or already have it then new research suggests that cutting down on fructose may help.

Gout has been around for centuries. It is a condition that is heavily diet related and the classical picture of the gout-sufferer is of the English aristocrat with his painful big toe wrapped and elevated on a footstool. The connection has been that the rich foods of the aristocratic “table” were believed to be behind the gout. That belief is correct.

At its base level gout is a problem with metabolising uric acid. When there are excess uric acid levels in your body they precipitate out and form needle-like crystals that deposit in the feet, usually in the big toe, causing immense pain and potential immobility. Uric acid levels are increased by foods that are rich in substances called purines and these foods did feature heavily in the archetypal English aristocrat’s diet. Those purine-rich foods include anchovies, goose, heart, kidneys, liver, mackerel, fish roe (caviar), oysters, sardines, scallops, prawns, and yeast. You can also add to that list foods rich in fructose and unfortunately those foods are far more common.

Over the last three decades there has been a 250 per cent increase in the rates of gout and this has been linked to an increased consumption of fructose-rich drinks like soft drinks and orange juice. To test whether this link is real or imagined researchers examined data collected from 78 900 women between 1984 and 2006.

The analysis showed that women who had one 180 ml serving of soft drink per day were 74 per cent more likely to develop gout than women who consumed one per month or less. Women who had 180ml of orange juice per day were 41 per cent more likely to develop gout.

Rates of gout are still not high. They stand at about 42 cases per 100 000 population among women. Rates of gout among men are approximately nine times that of the female population. Nevertheless, if you are a gout sufferer or suspect you are at risk then cutting back on fructose containing drinks would be a good idea. Certainly gout is no longer the province only of Lord Ponselby Blowfish and his peers; it is rapidly becoming a mainstream health concern.

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The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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