Diabetes and Gout

The “Disease of Kings” Affects More People than You’d Think

hands-and-feetGout is a joint condition that used to be called the “disease of kings” because, traditionally, kings were the only people able to dine on lots of rich, calorie-filled foods. Today, gout affects many people–including women. More than 8 million adults in the US have gout, and it’s on the rise.

What causes gout?

Gout is a type of arthritis that occurs due to high levels of uric acid in the blood (which is called hyperuricemia). The uric acid crystals cause an inflammatory type of arthritis that can lead to redness, swelling, and pain. The most commonly affected joint is the big toe, but almost any joint in the body can be affected.

Uric acid is formed from the breakdown of cells in the body and also from purines (found in food). Your kidneys normally get rid of extra uric acid, but they can’t always keep up with high levels. Some people have high uric acid levels and never get gout. However, certain other factors that can trigger this painful condition:

  • Family history of gout
  • Joint injury
  • High triglyceride (blood fat) levels
  • High blood pressure
  • Insulin resistance
  • Certain medicines (diuretics; cyclosporine)
  • Chemotherapy or radiation therapy
  • Alcohol use
  • A high intake of red meat, shellfish or organ meats
  • A high intake of fructose from sweetened soft drinks
  • Crash dieting

How is gout linked to diabetes?

The link between gout and diabetes mainly is due to excess body weight. As rates of overweight and obesity rise, so do rates of type 2 diabetes and gout. People with gout and people with type 2 diabetes share some common risk factors:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Not getting enough physical activity
  • High uric acid levels
  • Insulin resistance
  • High blood pressure
  • Decreased circulation

Some researchers think that gout raises the risk of type 2 diabetes, no matter how much you weigh. It may also be that gout causes inflammation; in turn, inflammation could raise your diabetes risk.

How is gout treated?

There are different types of medicines to treat gout, including colchicine, corticosteroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). Other medicines are used to prevent flare-ups of gout; these include allopurinol, febuxostat and probenecid.

Can gout be prevented?

While gout can be treated, it’s best to try and avoid getting gout in the first place. Below are suggestions for lowering your risk. If you already have gout, these changes can lower your chances of a flare-up.

  • Reach and stay at a healthy weight.
  • Avoid crash diets or fasting.
  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water each day.
  • Limit your intake of saturated fat, the unhealthy type of fat found in red meat, butter, whole milk and cheese.
  • Watch portions of high-purine foods, including red meat, shrimp, lobster, scallops and organ meats.
  • Limit your intake of alcohol, especially beer, which can increase uric acid levels.
  • Include low fat dairy foods like milk and yogurt into your eating plan. This may cut your risk of gout by half.

If you believe you’re at risk for gout or have had episodes of gout in the past, talk with your healthcare provider about medicines, and steps that you can take to lower your risk.



(97 Articles)

Amy Campbell MS, RD, LDN, CDE is an experienced health, nutrition and diabetes educator and communicator with more than 25 years of experience within the healthcare sector. Amy has extensive expertise in editing and writing for patients, consumers and healthcare professionals; public speaking, teaching and group facilitation; project and account management; and content and curriculum development.


She is currently the Director for Clinical Education Content Development and Training at Good Measures LLC, a Health Professional Advisor at the Egg Nutrition Center, and a blogger/Writer for Madavor Media.

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