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Lobster, T-Bones, and Your Knees

Lobster, T-Bones, and Your Knees

Love Friday night surf and turf at your local pub? Got a bum knee or foot that often flares up on weekends? There may be a link.

Eating foods that are high in a protein called purine -- such as a seafood and steak dinner washed down with a cold beer -- can bring on gout, a particularly painful type of arthritis that primarily attacks leg and foot joints. If family history makes arthritis a potential hazard, turns out you can slash your risk of gout by eating more low-fat dairy foods (string cheese, yogurt, milk) and less surf and turf.

An overload of foods high in purine is a requirement for gout. Your body converts purine into uric acid, a waste product that's normally eliminated through your kidneys. But when there's too much uric acid in your system, it forms tiny, sharp crystals that take up residence in the lower leg and foot joints (the big toe is a favorite site), causing intense pain, redness, and swelling. People with certain inherited characteristics linked to rheumatoid arthritis are prone to uric acid buildup and gout.

Although gout is on the rise, in one study, men who ate the highest amounts of low-fat dairy had a 44 percent lower risk of the condition compared to men who consumed the least. What else can you do? Watch your weight -- extra pounds stress joints -- and avoid high-purine foods, including steak, lobster, and liquor.

Medically reviewed in March 2019.

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