Gout, what Hippocrates called the rich man’s disease is an old disease that renews itself when one overindulges in alcohol-especially beer, and high purine foods-mainly meats and shellfish. It is a type of inflammatory arthritis and can affect any joint but has an affinity for joints of the feet, hands, elbows, and knees.

Uric acid crystals accumulate in the joints causing searing painOften it lies hidden for years and then suddenly at night it attacks, awakening an unsuspecting victim with excruciating big toe pain. The circulatory system, having no other place to dump its overload of uric acid crystals, find the connective tissue of the big toe an ideal landfill. The victim is most often a middle-aged male; the ratio of 10 men to one woman in this age group, although as both men and women age, this changes.

Gout develops gradually. The kidneys being unable to clean the blood of its overload of uric acid dumps the excess elsewhere in the body. (Often these uric acid crystals can cause kidney stones) Uric acid is a by-product of the body’s healthy metabolism. Gout happens only when the normal process has become abnormal.

This first attack lasts from about three to ten days, with or without treatment, and maybe a one-time event. Its prognosis is having to do with how its victim manages his lifestyle. Low purine foods are preferable, and these are: lots of water, coffee, cereals, chocolate, fruits, grains, pasta, cheese, eggs, milk products, sugar, olives, tomatoes, and some types of green vegetables;

Foods to avoid: high purine meats, mainly beef, pork, lamb, and organ foods. Eat less seafood, especially anchovies, sardines, roe, herrings, mussels, codfish, scallops, haddock, and trout. Omit alcohol or at least reduced the intake, and limit the intake of oatmeal, dried beans, peas, lentils, spinach, asparagus, cauliflower, and mushrooms.

Gout is of two varieties, primary and secondary. Primary is a predisposition to the disease from birth. The victim is born with a malformation in the system that changes nucleic acid into uric acid, rendering the body unable to excrete uric acid from the blood, even though the amount of purine taken is in the normal range.

Secondary gout is caused by an abuse of the standard system of metabolism. That is the gorging of fatty foods and alcohol that renders the body incapable of normalizing itself. Or another illness in the body interferes with the body’s ability to cope. Some medicines are causative factors, not allowing the kidneys to keep the blood clean.