When you hear the word gout do you think of Henry the Eighth? You know; an obese man who feasts on joints of meat and throws the bones over his shoulder, quaffing tankards of ale and goblets of red wine?

Gout is not just a historical disease. The condition affects more than three million Americans, more men than women, though plenty of women are afflicted with the condition. Meat, red wine, ale and obesity are all contributing factors to gout.

Gout is a painful condition, a type of arthritis, caused when sharp uric acid crystals collect in the joints. It usually targets the feet, especially the big toe, but it can affect other joints. The pain of gout has been known to make grown men scream.

The uric acid is created when substance called purine is broken down in your body.

The National Institutes for Health says purines are in many foods, and beverages, like liver, dried beans and peas, and anchovies, shellfish, beer and red wine.

Gout is also linked to obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides, diabetes and kidney disease. It tends to run in families.

We usually diagnose it when we see a sudden onset of arthritis and a high level of uric acid in the blood. Your doctor may also want to draw a sample of fluid from the joint to see if there are uric acid crystals in it.

Gout hurts like crazy, but we do have medicines to treat the condition. For pain we usually suggest an over the counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. For the swelling we have corticosteroids, and a drug called Colchicine. We also have a number of medicines that can reduce the amount of uric acid in the blood.

If you want to cut back on your gout episodes you will have to take your medicine and make some lifestyle changes.

Take your diet for example. You will need to cut back on many of your favorite foods, including: Beef, lamb, pork and organ meats. Seafood, especially shrimp, lobster, mussels and sardines are high in purine. Are you a fan of anchovies? You’ll want to give on that guilty pleasure too.

Not a food, but a beverage, beer is high in gout promoting purines and you’ll want to cut way back on that.

If you are still with me, you will also need to limit sugar in your diet, especially fructose. Fructose and added sugar is often found in sweet soft drinks, processed foods and fast foods. You also have to cut way back on cereals, manufactured baked goods, ice cream and candy.

Exercise can be a big help, we require about 30 minutes per day to keep in shape, you should check with your doctor before you tackle any serious workout routine.

You will also need to work on maintain a body weight that is in the normal range for your height, sex and age.

Drink plenty of liquids. Some experts think that staying hydrated can help lower your uric acid levels.

The lifestyle changes are pretty harsh, but gout sufferers say the pain of an attack can be nearly unbearable.