Life with gout involves making smart lifestyle choices to keep flare-ups at bay. Those healthy choices may also work to prevent a newly discovered risk that people with gout also face: diabetes.
- Learn more: All About Gout - Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment
Diabetes risk significantly higher for women
A large study examined whether people with gout were at an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes.1 The comparison of health records of nearly 140,000 people for 15 years revealed a concrete risk: Men with gout were 22% more likely to develop diabetes, compared to men without gout. The trend was even more alarming in women with gout: They were 71% more likely to develop diabetes.
You can take steps to avoid diabetes
Fortunately, there are measures that people with gout can take to counteract their diabetes risk—most of which help prevent gout flare-ups too. These include:
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese is the number one risk factor for type 2 diabetes. But studies have shown that losing just a few percentage points of your total body weight can delay or even prevent diabetes.
- Stay active.
The best way to lose or maintain your weight is to get 150 minutes of physical activity a week. This works out to half an hour of activity five days a week. You can even split your daily exercise into smaller portions—try taking a 10 minute walk at lunch, then a 20 minute walk after work.
- Eat right.
If you have gout, you probably already know to avoid foods with high purine content, such as meat and alcohol. These same habits can help you steer clear of diabetes. Good diet choices to help prevent both diabetes and gout flare-ups include:
- Lots of fruits and vegetables (with the exception of high-purine veggies like asparagus and spinach)
- Low-fat dairy
- Whole grains
- Plant-based proteins like nuts and beans
- Plenty of water
See Gout Prevention Diet for more dietary tips.
- Watch your numbers. To keep your diabetes risk low, aim for a blood pressure reading of less than 140/90 and for healthy cholesterol levels: "good" HDL cholesterol above 35 and unhealthy triglycerides below 250.
- " Independent impact of gout on the risk of diabetes mellitus among women and men: a population-based, BMI-matched cohort study." Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. 2014 Oct 2. [Epub ahead of print]