Gout, also known as gouty arthritis, is an inflammatory arthritis condition caused by the buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints. Although some individuals may have a pre-disposition to gout based on family history, most cases of gout result from a diet rich in purines, which are substances found in alcohol, seafood, meat products, and fructose-sweetened beverages. Consuming purine-dense foods makes it difficult for the organs to break down the uric acid, and it collects in the joints.
In most patients, the first sign of gout is pain, inflammation and a burning sensation at the base of the big toe. However, gout can also affect the ankles and heels. An attack of gout is extremely painful, and can last for several hours, regardless of whether or not the joint is bearing weight.
Because of gout’s association with diet, patients are advised to consume more plant-based foods and limit animal products and alcohol intake. Drinking more water and exercising regularly have also been linked to reducing uric acid levels and reducing the frequency of gout attacks.