A very painful form of inflammatory arthritis, gout can be considered a lifestyle disease plaguing people that have high insulin levels, a high sugar diet and drink too much alcohol. These people also tend to be sedentary.

Gout still has a reputation as a “disease of the rich” because it mainly affects those that can afford expensive foods such as meat, sugared foods and wine.

Gout is caused by an abnormally high level of uric acid in the blood, a condition called hyperuricemia. Hyperuricemia occurs when a body produces uric acid, which is a waste product from digestion, faster than a body can excrete it.

In some instances, uric acid can congeal to form sharp crystals in joints and connective tissue. The constant pressure exerted by these crystals on joints and connective tissue causes sharp pain and swelling.

Gout most commonly starts as an inflammation in the big toe. It also affects lower temperature joints such as the ankles or knees. Gout, however, can attack any of your joints.

Your intestines and kidney normally help excrete a healthy amount of uric acid. But factors such as disease or an infection can prevent these organs from doing their job.

In small amounts, uric acid is a beneficial antioxidant in your bloodstream. In large amounts, however, too much uric acid can trigger hyperuricemia.

Symptoms of gout to watch out for include severe and sudden pain, tenderness, redness and swelling in the joints. Attacks occur suddenly and are more common in the evening. The swelling and pain are excruciating that could last a few days to a week or more.

Because it’s strongly linked to dietary choices, gout is one of the most treatable types of arthritis. Recent studies have identified the excessive consumption of alcohol and sugars, especially fructose in added sugars, as the real causes of gout.

Fructose is a type of sugar comprising some 50 percent of table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), an ingredient in foods such as peanut butter. Scientists have expressed fears the excessive intake of fructose might cause metabolic disorders such as obesity, type II diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.

At this juncture, it’s important to clarify that fructose from added sugars is bad for you. Fructose from fruits isn’t.

Doctors say the harmful effects of fructose apply to Western diets with their excess calories and added sugars. It doesn’t apply to natural sugars found in fruits and vegetables.

shutterstock_51788350Gout ED
Gout sufferers should be screened for erectile dysfunction, according to a new study. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock