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28/Jan/2021

We often associate gout with gluttony and enjoying too much alcohol. Historical images of gout include overweight, ruddy faced, aristocratic men or royalty such as Henry VIII.

But this isn’t the case and is too simplistic a view of a complex condition.

To find out more about gout, what causes it and how it’s treated, check out our gout info.

So what causes a gout attack?

If you have gout, you know that an attack happens suddenly, often overnight, and you’ll wake up in a lot of pain ????.

And it’s more likely to occur if you:

  • are male
  • have a family history of gout
  • are overweight
  • have high levels of uric acid in your blood
  • drink too much alcohol (especially beer)
  • eat a purine-rich diet (including foods such as red meat, offal, shellfish, fructose, beer)
  • use diuretics
  • become dehydrated
  • crash diet or fast.

Managing your weight

While you can’t control some of the risk factors to prevent a gout attack, you can control your weight. If you’re overweight, losing weight gradually and carefully can reduce your risk. However don’t go on a crash diet, skip meals or fast as this can also increase your risk of an attack.

If you need to lose weight, talking with your doctor and/or a dietitian is a really good idea to get the information and support you need to lose weight in a healthy way.

Other dietary changes

It’s believed that lowering uric acid levels through small changes in your diet may help reduce the chance of future gout attacks. These changes include:

  • restricting or avoiding alcohol
  • avoiding binge drinking
  • eating a healthy, well balanced, colourful diet. Research suggests that the DASH diet or Mediterranean diet may be helpful. Read our blog on anti-inflammatory diets for more info.
  • drinking plenty of water
  • avoiding fasting or crash dieting
  • making sure you don’t overeat on a regular basis.

Your doctor or dietitian can help guide you in making healthy changes to your diet.

Keep taking your medication

It’s important to note that dietary changes alone aren’t enough to address the underlying cause of gout – too much uric acid in your blood. For many years there’s been a misconception that simply changing your diet will help keep your gout under control.

However the research clearly shows that medication is needed for most people with gout to manage it effectively. So if you decide to make some dietary changes, discuss this with your doctor and continue to take any medication you’ve been prescribed to manage your gout.

Final word

Gout is a painful, complex condition that affects many Australians. But there are things you can do to take control, including managing your weight, making changes to the things you eat and drink and taking your medication.

Contact our Help Line

If you have questions about things like managing your pain, your musculoskeletal condition, treatment options, COVID-19, telehealth, or accessing services be sure to call our nurses. They’re available weekdays between 9am-5pm on 1800 263 265; email (helpline@msk.org.au) or via Messenger.

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28/Jan/2021

We’re well and truly into summer now, and it’s hot all over the country. If you’re like me, you’re either sprawled on the couch with the fan pointed directly at you or at the local watering hole/river/pool/beach up to your neck in water. Anything to stay cool ????.

When it’s really hot it makes it difficult to even think about doing anything productive. But life doesn’t stop because it’s a hot summer’s day. We still have to work, go to school, do our chores, exercise and socialise. Life goes on.

But a really simple thing we can do to make it easier to cope is to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water.

Did you know more than half of your body is made up of water?

And while we can survive for weeks without food, we can only survive for days without water. It really is essential for our survival.

The importance of water

Water lubricates and cushions our joints, aids digestion, prevents constipation, keeps our temperature normal and helps maintain blood pressure. It carries nutrients and oxygen to our cells, flushes out toxins, and cushions the brain and spinal cord. It can also help prevent gout attacks, boost energy levels and fight fatigue. It also makes us feel full, which in turn helps us maintain or lose weight.

It’s practically magic, which is why it’s so often referred to as the elixir of life.

We lose water constantly when we breathe, sweat and go to the toilet, so we need to replace it constantly. If we don’t, our body can’t work as well as it should. We start feeling thirsty, and may experience symptoms such as dizziness, light-headedness, tiredness or a headache.

How much water should you drink every day?

The amount of water you need each day varies from person to person and from day to day. There’s no ‘one size fits all’.

Things like your age, gender, weight, health, the temperature and your environment will affect how much water you’ll need. Other factors such as whether you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, or living or working in environments that cause you to sweat more will increase the amount of water you need to drink every day. As will your level of physical activity. So there are a lot of factors that will affect how much you need. And this may change from day to day.

That’s why the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend that you drink ‘plenty of water’, as they acknowledge that the amount needed is so specific to each person.

The old adage of eight glasses every day is not based on any scientific evidence. You should let your thirst be the guide.

Another good indicator as to whether you’re drinking enough water is the colour of your urine. If it’s consistently pale or very light then you’re getting enough water, however if it’s darker, it means that you’re dehydrated and need to increase your daily intake of water. Healthdirect has a urine chart to help you see if you’re adequately hydrated. Check it out and next time you go for a wee, notice the colour. Where does it fit on the chart?

Tips to increase your water intake

Many people find it difficult to drink enough water every day. Hectic schedules and just the general business of life means that we can go for long periods of time without having a drink. Here are some suggestions to help you get enough water every day:

  • Buy a good quality water bottle (or two) and keep it with you at work, in the car, when you’re out and about, or when you’re exercising. Many parks and public places have water refill stations so you can fill your water bottle up when you need to.
  • Don’t forget other drinks (e.g. fruit juice, milk, herbal tea) and many foods (e.g. celery, cucumber, strawberries and melons) all contribute to your daily water intake. While plain water is the best option and should be your hydration ‘go to’, other drinks and foods do play an important role. Read this article from Medical News Today – Hydrating foods: The top 20 and their benefits – for more info.
  • Make it a habit. For example, drink a glass of water as soon as you get up in the morning. You’ve gone many hours without any water and likely have a dry mouth and gross morning breath ????. A glass of water will help with both of those things. Drink water with your meals and before you go to bed. Building it into your everyday routine means it’ll become a habit and you’re less likely to become dehydrated.
  • Create triggers. This is part of making it a habit. So when you do things like clean your teeth, go to the loo, walk through the kitchen, watch your favourite TV show, or come back from a walk, have a glass of water.
  • Jazz up your water by adding healthy additions that provide a flavour punch. Think about slices of citrus fruits like lemon, lime or orange. Or some mint leaves, ginger or lemongrass. There are so many options. Just be careful if you’re adding teas, infusions or cordials to your water that you’re not adding a lot of extra sugar.
  • Add some sparkle. If you find plain water a little uninspiring, mix it up with some sparkling water. Again – plain is best, but if you’re feeling bored with that, sparkling or carbonated water is a better alternative to soft drinks, fruit drinks and smoothies.
  • Set reminders on your phone or computer. Just as you do to get up and move, set an alarm to remind you to drink some water.
  • Have a glass of water whenever you eat. If you’re dining out, ask for water for your table.
  • Track your water intake on your fitness tracker or health app.
  • Consume alcohol and drinks containing caffeine (e.g. coffee, tea, cola) in moderation. They’re diuretics, which means they make you go to the toilet more often and lose water through urine, so be careful of the amount you drink.
  • If you’re concerned that you’re not getting enough water, or you’re not sure how much water is right for you, talk with your doctor or a dietitian.

Make drinking enough water an important part of your daily routine. Once you get in the habit, you’ll find it’s something you do automatically, and you’ll notice how much better you feel when you’re properly hydrated.

And with the hot weather making us feel limp and wrung out, it’s the perfect time to get started.

Call our Help Line

If you have questions about things like managing your pain, your musculoskeletal condition, treatment options, COVID-19, telehealth, or accessing services be sure to call our nurses. They’re available weekdays between 9am-5pm on 1800 263 265; email (helpline@msk.org.au) or via Messenger.

More to explore


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27/May/2018

Essential for life

Did you know that more than half of your body is made up of water?

Water lubricates and cushions your joints, aids digestion, prevents constipation, keeps your temperature normal and helps maintain your blood pressure.

We lose water constantly when we breathe, sweat and go to the toilet, so you need to replace this water. If you don’t, your body can’t work as well as it should. You’ll feel thirsty, and you may experience symptoms like dizziness or light-headedness, tiredness or get a headache.

The amount of water you need each day varies from person to person and from day to day. There’s no ‘one size fits all’.

Things like your age, gender, health and environment will affect how much water you’ll need. You’ll notice that you drink more in warmer weather, and when you’re physically active, compared to the amount you drink when you’re sitting at home on a winter’s night.

Some people find it difficult to drink enough. If that’s you, here are some suggestions to help you get enough water every day:

  • buy a good quality water bottle and keep it with you at work, in the car, when you’re exercising. Many parks and public places have water refill stations so you can fill your water bottle up when you need to.
  • count your other drinks (e.g. fruit juice, milk, herbal tea) and some of your foods (e.g. soups and watery foods like celery and melons) as they also add to your daily water intake.
  • create triggers – e.g. have a glass of water after you use the toilet, or when you walk through the kitchen
  • jazz it up by adding lemon, ginger or some other flavouring to your water.
  • set reminders on your phone or computer.
  • have a glass of water each time you eat. If you’re out for a meal, ask for water for your table.
  • track your water intake on your fitness tracker or health app.
  • alcohol and drinks containing caffeine (e.g. coffee, tea, cola) are diuretics, which means they make you go to the toilet more often and lose water through urine, so try to consume these in moderation.
  • if you’re concerned that you’re not getting enough water, or you’re not sure how much water is right for you, talk with your doctor.

Make drinking enough water an important part of your daily routine. Once you get in the habit, you’ll find it’s something you do automatically, and you’ll feel great!




Musculoskeletal Australia (or MSK) is the consumer organisation working with, and advocating on behalf of, people with arthritis, osteoporosis, back pain, gout and over 150 other musculoskeletal conditions.

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