DASH Diet May Lower Gout Risk
What to Know
Gout is painful form of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid in the bloodstream. It most commonly attacks the big toe, leading to inflammation, swelling, and stiffness. People with diabetes have a higher likelihood of developing gout. Some research suggests that gout may increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Changes in the diet can help reduce your uric acid levels and prevent painful gout attacks. A new study investigated whether a diet commonly recommended to lower blood pressure—often high in people with diabetes—could benefit those with gout.
Researchers reviewed the eating habits of 44,444 men, collected over 26 years. The men were ages 40 to 75, mostly white, and did not have gout when the study began. The study didn’t look at whether they had diabetes. The researchers evaluated how closely each participant adhered to the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet or a typical American diet. The DASH diet emphasizes low-fat foods, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, and restricts salt, sugar, and red meat. The standard American diet, by contrast, is high in red meat, saturated fat, salt, and sugar. They then tallied the number of men who developed gout.
During the study, 1,731 men developed gout. But the men who most closely followed the DASH diet had a 32 percent lower risk of gout than the men who adhered to it the least. Meanwhile, men who indulged most heavily in the American diet demonstrated a 42 percent greater risk of gout than the men who avoided such foods the most.
The DASH diet appears to reduce the risk of developing painful gout. That’s an added bonus for a diet that can play a critical role in lowering blood pressure and protecting the heart—both particularly important for people with diabetes, who have an increased risk of heart disease. The study did have some shortcomings. It did not prove that the DASH diet caused the reduction in gout risk; it could only show that the two were linked. Also, the study did not include women, and 91 percent of the participants were white, so the authors can’t say whether the results would apply to others as well.
“The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, Western diet, and risk of gout in men: prospective cohort study.” Sharan K Rai, Teresa T Fung, Na Lu, Sarah F Keller, Gary C Curhan, Hyon K Choi. BMJ, published online May 9, 2017; 357: j1794.