According to statistics by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) of the United States, 275 in every 100,000 people suffer from gout. It is predicted that in the year 2021, there would be 17.7 million people suffer from gout globally. This alarming figure truly warrants a call for increased health awareness!

When it comes to gout, we should remember the Chinese idiom: “illness enters by the mouth”. One of the main culprits is excessive eating and drinking habits. Excessive consumption of foods high in purines such as seafood, meat, alcohol and beans, significantly increase the density of uric acid in the body. Making it worse, lack of exercise also causes uric acid remain in the body instead of being properly excreted. Over a long period of time, excessive uric acid build-up can lead to the formation of uric acid crystal deposits, which are the “culprits” of gout.

You may not be aware that gout, obesity, hypertension (high blood pressure), hyperlipidemia, coronary heart disease and diabetes are all closely related. For example, patients with hypertension commonly use diuretics to control their blood pressure levels, but which leads to extracellular fluid loss. This in turn increases the reabsorption of urates by kidney tubules. Chronic hypertension triggers atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), which results in renal function deterioration (kidney failure) and decreases uric acid excretion. This simply translates into the increase of uric acid concentration, which leading to gout attacks.

For overweight people, the major culprit is overeating, which leads to the accumulation excess fats in the subcutaneous, abdominal and visceral parts of the body. When the body is tired or hungry, it burns the stored fat to generate energy (calories) to support the body movement. The problem is that whenever the body burns fat for energy, it also produces ketones which prevents the excretion of uric acid. This causes the hyperuricemia levels that triggers gout attacks.

Statistically speaking, Malaysia is the most obese country in Southeast Asia. Out of 30.3 million Malaysians, 12 million people (40%) are overweight, with more than 5.1 million (17% to 18%) suffering from human obesity. This obviously makes Malaysia the fattest country in Southeast Asia. This number increases yearly, meaning that more and more people are becoming vulnerable to metabolic problems such as gout.

Most gout patients are men over the age of 30. However, due to unhealthy lifestyles and bad eating habits, gout victims are getting younger and younger, with clinical studies showing that there are now gout patients as young as 20. The proportion of men and women suffering from gout is around 9: 1, though postmenopausal women are more vulnerable. In any case, the risk of gout occurring will increase with higher uric acid concentration, which is something that affects both men and women.

In order to prevent gout, according to doctor’s health tips, we should do our best to have a healthy lifestyle and diet. Avoid food that is high in purine (organ meats, beer, etc.), drink plenty of water daily, and exercise regularly to maintain a healthy weight.

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