Dairy-Rich Diet May Help Prevent Gout

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It has long been accepted that once you have gout, a form of arthritis that causes joint pain and swelling (often in the foot), you should go easier on foods like anchovies, fish in general, and meat. Those foods are especially rich in purines, which break down to a substance called uric acid. In afflicted people (mostly men), uric acid builds to excess levels and then forms crystal-like deposits in the joints that cause all the attendant discomfort. But a new study suggests that eating more low-fat dairy products is associated with a reduced risk of developing gout. Harvard researchers studying nearly 50,000 men in the ongoing Health Professionals Follow-Up Study found that those men who consumed 2 or more cups of skim or low-fat milk or yogurt per day were only about half as likely to end up with gout after 12 years as men who ate hardly any dairy foods.

Why? The researchers suspect that it's because in addition to having a low purine load, dairy products contain the milk proteins casein and lactalbumin, both of which reduce uric acid levels by increasing their elimination from the body.

Men, as well as women, should be consuming at least 2 cups of dairy a day to begin with to keep their bones strong. Staving off gout, which affects more than 3 million American men, is another potential reason.

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