Many nutrition and diet experts promote high-protein diets to treat and prevent obesity. These high-protein diets have been shown to reduce body weight and cardiometabolic risk factors (risk factors that may lead to vascular conditions or the development of diabetes). One popular high-protein diet is the Paleolithic or Paleo diet. However, for some people, eating high levels of meat and seafood can cause an increased risk of having a gout attack.
What Is the Paleo Diet?
Popularized by Loren Cordain, PhD, the Paleo Diet encourages people to eat like people did during the Stone Age. Cavemen could only eat what they could catch or gather, such as meats, fish, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits. When you’re on the Paleo Diet, you should avoid eating dairy products, grains, legumes, processed foods and alcohol, since cavemen didn’t have access to these foods. But of the reasoning behind the Paleo diet is that the genetic code of our bodies hasn’t evolved enough for us to properly digest the refined and genetically modified foods that we often eat today. Dr. Cordain and his followers believe that by replacing highly processed foods and refined sugars, a person’s health will improve.
What Is Gout?
Gout is a form of arthritis that causes extremely painful inflammation of the joints. Gout is caused by the buildup of uric acid crystals in the joint or tissues surrounding the joint. Uric acid is produced when your body breaks down purines, a natural substance found in your cells and in certain foods like red meats, seafood, alcoholic beverages and drinks sweetened with fruit sugar. Normally, uric acid dissolves in your blood and passes through your kidneys into your urine. But some people may produce too much uric acid or their kidneys excrete too little of it. When this happens, uric acid can build up forming sharp crystals in the joint that cause pain and inflammation.
Gout attacks are sudden and severe. They cause redness and tenderness in the joints. Gout most commonly affect the big toe, but it can also attack the feet, ankles, knees and hands. An attack or flare can last for days or months. Men and people who are obese have a greater risk of developing gout.
How Can the Paleo Diet Increase the Risk of Gout Attacks?
People who follow the Paleo Diet eat lots of red meat and certain types of seafood like shrimp, crab, trout, cod, salmon, scallops and herring, which can increase the risk of gout. Also Paleo Diet followers eliminate dairy products from their diets. Studies show dairy can decrease the risk of gout. So when Paleo Dieters eliminate dairy products from their diet, uric acid levels in their blood can significantly increase.
Therefore, before you follow a Paleo Diet, talk to your doctor to determine if the diet could have adverse effects on your health.
If you do follow the Paleo Diet and develop symptoms of gout, like pain, swelling and extreme tenderness in a joint, and/or very red or purplish skin around the affected joint, and/or limited movement in the affected joint, see your doctor as soon as possible for proper diagnosis and treatment.
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