Rich Diet, Poor Joints

Rich Diet, Poor Joints

”... the rich ate and drank freely, accepting gout and apoplexy as things that ran mysteriously in respectable families ...”

English novelist George Eliot penned this line in her novel, Silas Marner, published in 1861. More recently, the United Kingdom's Daily Telegraph is reporting that gout, a painful joint condition associated most closely with Victorian era figures such as Henry VIII, is once again plaguing citizens. "The trends show that conditions associated with indulgence, and excess eating and drinking, are rising sharply," reports the news outlet. The Telegraph cites statistics showing an increase in patients admitted to British hospitals for gout up by 61 percent in five years. "That increase," says the article, "probably reflects our ageing population, burdened by junk food and steep rises in obesity."


Gout is the common name for painful, inflammatory arthritis that is associated with the rich, Western-style diet. At one time, only royalty and their upper-class friends could dine on animal products at every meal. Today, it is typical for members of all classes of society to enjoy bacon and eggs for breakfast, a cheese burger for lunch, and chicken or beef for dinner. In fact, with the popularity of low-carb diets, many people are dining like Victorian kings ... and suffering as Victorian kings did, as well. The incidence of gout has doubled in the United States over the past 20 years as our diet has become more meat-centric and obesity has risen.

How does a rich diet cause gout? To learn more about the connection between food and swollen, inflamed joints, read my article, "Is Your Diet 'Rich' Enough to Get Gout?"

Or if you simply want to avoid the painful results of eating like Victorian royalty, you might just take the advice of John Abernathy, a discerning physician of the late 1700s. He recorded his advice to patients who wished to rid themselves of painful, gouty joints: "'Pray, Mr Abernethy, what is a cure for gout?' was the question of an indolent and luxurious citizen. ‘Live upon sixpence a day and earn it,’ was the cogent reply.”

Apparently diet and lifestyle changes were 'just what the doctor ordered' even in the 1700s. 

For additional reading:
(1) Is Your Diet 'Rich' Enough to Get Gout?
(2) Poultry and Fish Increase Risk for Gout
(3) Preventing Gout Attacks with Diet

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