On the most basic level, gout is caused by too much uric acid in the blood, a condition called hyperuricemia. This condition can be caused either by too much dietary intake of chemicals that break down into uric acid or by kidney problems that make the body less able to remove uric acid.
A diet high in purines can lead to gout. Purines are natural chemical components of DNA and RNA, and when the body breaks them down, they turn into uric acid. Some purines are found naturally in the body, but some foods are especially high in purine content and can raise uric acid levels in the blood. These high purine foods include:
- organ meats like kidneys, liver, and sweetbreads
- red meat
- oily fish like sardines, anchovies, and herring
- certain vegetables, including asparagus and cauliflower
Renal insufficiency is the inability of the kidneys to effectively remove waste products, including uric acid, from the body. Uncontrolled diabetes or high blood pressure can cause renal insufficiency, as can a number of genetic and other diseases.