Can Children Have Gout?
By now most people have a basic understanding of gout - what it is and who gets it and most can also even advise that the major cause of gout is beer and meat. And, in some measure, they'll be correct. However researchers are constantly coming up with new links to old problems, and gout is among those "old problems" for which there is almost always new information.
But, Kids Don't Drink Beer!
For instance, the general assumption is that children are not in any danger of suffering from gout. After all, how many children drink beer and eat diets rich in animal protein? Gout is the build up of uric acid crystals around a joint which becomes inflamed, causing intense pain. Also known as gouty arthritis, gout is considered to be the most painful of all arthritic diseases. While gout may not manifest in the very, very young, it has its genesis during the early years in many people.
Genetics, Diet and Exercise
More and more evidence is coming to light that genetics play a big part in the development of gout. If there is a predisposition to renal (kidney) problems, then gout will likely show up at some point. However, the issue we want to address here is not genetics, but rather diet. Over the past couple of decades, the average child spends less and less time outside playing with other children and more time sitting in front of a computer, television or playing with their game-boy. Having a drink of water is almost foreign to youngsters today who are given sugary sodas and flavoured drinks, mostly full of fructose.
It has been shown repeatedly that a healthy diet which includes fresh fruit and vegetables, low-fat proteins and plenty of good-old-fashioned water, helps relieve the symptoms of gout quickly and effectively. As adults, making drastic changes to the diet and to habits can be very difficult, however, it can be done - and is often accomplished as the result of a "sentence" from the doctor.
Parents, You Set the Standard
What has all of this got to do with children? As parents, we establish eating and drinking habits for our children when they are small. Fruit juices, as healthy as they may seem, are filled with fructose. The natural sugar is highly concentrated and, unlike fresh fruit where the fructose is less concentrated and mixed with healthy fiber, it contributes to the build-up of uric acid in the body. A diet rich in fructose, whether it is from soft drinks or fructose-laden (read sugar-laden) cereals, establishes a precursor for gout. Uric acid crystals are being formed in those little bodies and they may erupt into gout one day in the not-too-distant future.
Even though it can be challenging to spend the time shopping for high quality, low sugar foods, in the long run it is preventative medicine for the entire family.