DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Will you give me information on the low-purine diet for gout? — C.J.
ANSWER: Years ago, before effective gout medicines were available, diet was the major treatment for gout. Now, with modern medicines, diet doesn’t play such a big role.
Elevated blood uric acid sets the stage for a gout attack. Uric acid infiltrates joints as needle-shaped crystals. Most uric acid comes from the recycling of body cells, a daily process. Only a small amount comes from food. It’s still wise for gout patients to take it easy on foods that are high in purines, but they don’t have to be as strict about diet as former patients had to be. Purines are the substances that produce uric acid.
Gout patients ought to scale back a bit on meat and fish. Anchovies, organ meats like liver and sweetbreads, and gravies have lots of purines in them, and should be taken only once in a while, if at all. Patients need to watch the amount of alcohol they drink. Beer, in particular, often triggers a gout attack. High-fructose corn syrup and table sugar ought to be used in moderation. Soft drinks have a large amount of high-fructose corn syrup in them. These are the only foods that bear some watching.
Milk and other dairy products lessen the chance of gout attacks. All fruits and vegetables can be eaten without any restriction.
Weight loss is important for overweight gout patients. That’s about all you need to know about the low-purine diet for gout.
The gout pamphlet explains this quite common and often misunderstood illness. Readers can obtain a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue — No. 302W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Canada with the printed name and address of the recipient. Please allow four weeks for delivery.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I have gotten my weight to a point where I am happy with it. I still have fat bulging at my sides. I think these are called love handles. I don’t love them. I don’t think that losing more weight will rid me of them.
What do you think of liposuction? Is it risky? — A.S.
ANSWER: Liposuction removes fat from fat deposits beneath the skin. It doesn’t remove deep deposits of fat, the fat that surrounds organs in the abdomen, the fat that creates most metabolic troubles. It’s the deep fat that’s associated with increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Your dieting should have taken care of that fat.
Liposuction surgery is cosmetic surgery, so you’d better check with your insurance if you need it to cover the procedure.
All surgical procedures, including liposuction, carry a risk. Complications from it, however, are not frequent.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: As I understand it, drinking coffee makes a person’s blood sugar rise, and then insulin has to be released by the body. Does drinking coffee overstimulate insulin production and contribute to diabetes, especially if a person is prone to diabetes? — T.F.
ANSWER: Coffee has turned into a health drink. It’s believed to prevent diabetes. It’s also said to prevent heart attacks and strokes.
Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.