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  • Writer's pictureDr. Ndidi Ufondu, DPM

Can Sugar worsen Gout? A Podiatric Perspective

Gout is a painful form of arthritis that occurs when uric acid crystals build up in the joints, causing inflammation, swelling and stiffness. Uric acid is a waste product that is normally excreted by the kidneys, but sometimes it can accumulate in the blood due to various factors, such as genetics, medications, dehydration, or diet.


One of the dietary factors that can affect uric acid levels is sugar. Sugar is a type of carbohydrate that provides energy for the body, but it also has some negative effects on health, especially when consumed in excess. In this article, we will explore how sugar can worsen gout and what you can do to prevent or manage this condition.



Illustration of a Gout
www.scientificanimations.com/, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons


How does sugar worsen gout?


Sugar can affect gout in two main ways: by increasing uric acid production and by impairing kidney function.

  1. Increasing uric acid production: Sugar can increase the amount of purines in the body. Purines are substances that are found in some foods and beverages, such as meat, seafood, beer and wine. Purines are also produced by the body as part of normal metabolism. When purines are broken down, they produce uric acid. Therefore, eating or drinking too much sugar can lead to more uric acid in the blood, which can trigger or worsen gout attacks.

  2. Impairing kidney function: Sugar can also impair the ability of the kidneys to filter out uric acid from the blood. This can happen because sugar can cause dehydration, which reduces the amount of urine produced and increases the concentration of uric acid in the urine. Sugar can also cause insulin resistance, which is a condition where the cells do not respond well to insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. Insulin resistance can lead to high blood sugar levels, which can damage the kidneys and reduce their function.


How much sugar is too much?


According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the recommended daily intake of added sugars for men is no more than 9 teaspoons (36 grams) and for women is no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams). Added sugars are sugars that are added to foods and beverages during processing or preparation, such as table sugar, honey, syrups, and fruit juices. They do not include naturally occurring sugars in fruits, vegetables, dairy products and grains.


However, many people consume more than the recommended amount of added sugars every day. The average American consumes about 17 teaspoons (71 grams) of added sugars per day, which is equivalent to about 270 calories. This can add up to a lot of extra calories and carbohydrates that can affect your weight, blood sugar levels and uric acid levels.


What are some sources of added sugars?



Junk foods contain lots of Sugar which can worsen Gout conditions
Image created by Bing Image Creator


Added sugars can be found in many foods and beverages that you may not expect. Some common sources of added sugars are:

  • Soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks and fruit drinks

  • Candy, chocolate, cookies, cakes, pies and pastries

  • Ice cream, frozen yogurt and other desserts

  • Breakfast cereals, granola bars and oatmeal

  • Yogurt, flavored milk and creamers

  • Sauces, dressings, marinades and condiments

  • Bread, crackers and other baked goods

  • Canned fruits and vegetables

  • Dried fruits and fruit snacks


How can you reduce your sugar intake?


Reducing your sugar intake can help you lower your uric acid levels and prevent or manage gout. Here are some tips to help you cut back on sugar:

  1. Read nutrition labels carefully and look for the amount of added sugars per serving. Choose foods and beverages that have little or no added sugars.

  2. Avoid or limit sugary drinks and opt for water, unsweetened tea or coffee instead. You can also add some lemon or lime juice to your water for some flavor.

  3. Choose fresh fruits instead of fruit juices or dried fruits. Fresh fruits have natural sugars that are balanced by fiber, vitamins and minerals that are good for your health.

  4. Eat more vegetables, especially green leafy ones that are low in purines and high in antioxidants that can help fight inflammation.

  5. Choose whole grains over refined grains. Whole grains have more fiber and nutrients than refined grains that have been stripped of their bran and germ.

  6. Use natural sweeteners sparingly, such as honey, maple syrup or agave nectar. They may have some health benefits over table sugar, but they still contain calories and carbohydrates that can affect your blood sugar and uric acid levels.

  7. Use herbs and spices to add flavor to your foods instead of sauces and dressings that may contain added sugars.

  8. Limit your alcohol intake, especially beer and wine that are high in purines and can increase uric acid production.

  9. Plan your meals and snacks ahead of time and avoid skipping meals or binge eating. This can help you control your portions and cravings for sugary foods.


Conclusion


Sugar can worsen gout by increasing uric acid production and impairing kidney function. To prevent or manage gout, it is important to reduce your sugar intake and follow a balanced diet that is low in purines and high in fiber, antioxidants and fluids. If you have gout or are at risk of developing it, consult your podiatrist for more advice on how to treat and prevent this condition.



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