Do I Need To Stop Eating Meat If I Have Gout
No, but practice moderation, Dr. Burg reiterates. Avoid organ meats such as liver because they have higher levels of purines, which can cause flare-ups. Moderate intake of lean meats such as chicken and turkey should not affect your condition. Seafood such as shrimp and lobster tends to be higher in purines, though, so dont make it a regular part of your diet.
Why Uric Acid Levels Rise
Uric acid is a waste product. You end up with high uric acid levels for two reasons: your body produces too much, or your kidneys remove too little. Several factors increase your chances of having high levels of uric acid, such as:
- Being overweight or obese
- Being male, especially between 30-50 years of age
- Having a family history of gout
- Undergoing a trauma or surgery
Because uric acid is a byproduct of purine, your diet also plays a significant role in your chances of having gout.
Do I Need To Stop Drinking Alcohol With Gout
Yes, its a good idea to cut out alcohol. Alcohol molecules in your body tend to increase uric acid levels, so drinking can push you over the edge and into a flare-up. If youre newly diagnosed and start taking medication, try cutting out alcohol at first. Your doctor may allow you to add a small amount back into your diet over time as your uric acid levels come down. But even then, its best to avoid beer and liquor and stick to safer choices such as red wine, Dr. Burg says.
All myths aside, the best advice for people with gout is to eat fresh, unprocessed foods. Choose complex carbohydrates over refined carbs from packaged or processed foods. And always drink plenty of water because dehydration is a risk factor for an acute attack.
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What Is Gout And What Causes It
Before we can look at foods to avoid with gout, it is necessary to briefly understand what it is.
Gout is a form of joint inflammation, caused by excessive uric acid in circulation .
When the bodys natural uric acid threshold is exceeded, painful crystals can form in and around the joints. These crystals trigger the characteristic symptoms and pain.
Not everybody with high uric acid levels will get gout, but those who do always have high uric acid levels. This indicates there are other factors at play, but from a dietary perspective uric acid is the focus.
Excessive uric acid in the blood stream is typically driven by two factors: genetic predisposition and the ingestion of high-purine foods. Obviously, the dietary factor we can control.
When purines we eat are broken down and metabolised by the body, uric acid is formed as a by-product of this process. Its normal and healthy for uric acid to be formed, but excessive amounts are problematic.
Therefore, consuming less purine-rich foods should lower uric acid levels in your blood, lowering gout risk.
At least, in theory.
Its actually not that clear-cut because other nutrients appear to aggravate gout symptoms too
Heres a list of foods to avoid if you have gout, based on real scientific evidence.
What Can I Do On My Own To Prevent Gout Attacks
Gout is caused by high uric acid levels. If theres too much uric acid in our bodies, it can build up in joints and cause an acute gout attack. Some people manage to keep their levels of uric acid down by eating less meat, fish and seafood and drinking less alcohol.
Uric acid is released when substances called purines are broken down. Purines are mainly produced inside the body, but they are also found in many different types of foods that we eat. Fish, meat and seafood are especially rich in purines. People with gout are sometimes advised to stick to a strict low-purine diet. But its not clear exactly how effective that kind of diet is.
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Which Foods Should You Avoid When You Have Gout
Purines are compounds that are found in specific food and drink and they change to uric acid in the body. Most meat and seafood are high in purine and can increase uric acid levels in the body. These therefore should be limited during episodes of a gout attack and portion size should be reduced. Common examples of foods high in purine include anchovies, sardines, offal foods such as liver, kidney, sweetbreads, game, goose, minced meat, mussels, partridge, roe, scallops, herring, gravies, stock cubes and meat and yeast extracts.
The Cause Of Gout Is More Than Just Diet
While diet is critical, dont overlook other important factors that affect gout. These include family history, sleep apnoea, and lack of physical exercise to name a few.
And as much as I prefer focusing on what you should eat to prevent health scares, there are just so many clear trigger foods for gout.
Its important to deal with these factors first and foremost.
About Joe Leech, Dietitian
Joe Leech is a university-qualified dietitian from Australia.
He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in exercise science, followed by a Master’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics in 2011.
Learn more about him on the About page.
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Alcohol Is The Biggest Risk Factor For Gout
It is well-established that frequent alcohol intake dramatically increases risk of gout .
The Framingham Heart Study of over 4,500 participants provides some perspective.
Researchers found that regular alcohol use was associated with three times greater risk of gout in women compared to those who have less than 2 standard drinks per week. For men, regular drinkers had double the risk of non-drinkers .
Beer seems to be the worst, followed by hard liquors such as spirits. Interestingly, moderate wine consumption is not linked with any risk .
The reason why alcohol increases uric acid levels is still not well-understood. Some forms, particularly beer, can be high in purines but they are certainly not the richest source of purines in our diet.
Additional theories propose that excessive alcohol may also reduce the bodys ability to excrete uric acid. Others state that alcohol especially beer increases the chemical breakdown of purine-containing ATP nucleotides, which is a precursor of uric acid production .
Summary: Regular alcohol intake severely raises uric acid levels in the blood. It doubles, if not triples your risk of gout.
What Effect Do Your Weight And Diet Have
Some studies suggest that certain foods are linked to gout attacks. Gout attacks are apparently more common in people who have eaten a lot of meat, fish or seafood a few days before. That matches many people’s experiences. On the other hand, purine-rich plant-based foods such as peas, beans, lentils, spinach, mushrooms, oats, cauliflower and broccoli were found to have little to no effect on the risk of a gout attack. Overall, there hasnt been much good quality research into the link between certain foods and gout attacks.
Eating cherries is sometimes recommended to prevent gout attacks, but theres no scientific proof that it can help prevent gout.
Because not everybody has the same metabolism, its a good idea to try out for yourself what helps you and what doesnt and how much of different foods your body tolerates. Some people feel better after changing their diet, while others successfully lower their uric acid levels with medication and cope just fine without any changes to their diet.
Individual studies also suggest that losing weight can help if you’re very overweight. People with gout should be careful not to go without any food, though fasting can itself trigger a gout attack.
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Shopping List For Gout
What to put in your cart and what to pass up when planning your gout diet.
A diet to lower uric acid levels, along with medications prescribed by your doctor, makes gout one of the most controllable forms of arthritis. While you should always discuss the merits and drawbacks of specific foods with your doctor, use this shopping checklist as a general guide to food choices to improve your overall health, lower uric acid levels and reduce your risk of painful gout attacks. Put in Your Cart
- Skim milk.
- Low-fat dairy products .
- Whole-grain products .
- Plant oils .
- Vitamin C supplements .
- Coffee .
- Water bottles .
- Red meat and organ meats .
- Shellfish such as shrimp and lobster.
- Refined carbohydrates .
- Processed foods .
- Sugary beverages.
- Alcohol .
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Cherry Juice For Gout Management
Cherries and cherry juice are a popular folk remedy for gout, but the scientific evidence to support their supposed benefits is still coming in.
Nonetheless, theres reason to believe that cherries may help fight gout. They contain chemical compounds called anthocyanins, which have been shown to help reduce inflammation.
Cherries may also have a beneficial effect on uric acid levels.
One large study of people with recurrent gout found that eating cherries was associated with a lower risk of gout attacks, especially when cherry consumption was combined with taking a common uric acidlowering drug.
Despite these findings, experts say that more research is needed before any definitive recommendations can be made about cherries or cherry juice for gout.
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Are Some Types Of Alcohol Better Than Others
It seems that gout attacks are more common in beer and spirits drinkers than in people who drink wine. Many beers contain large amounts of purines, which can lead to elevated uric acid levels in the blood. However, there is no scientific proof that only certain types of alcoholic drinks can lead to gout attacks.
A Good Diet For Gout Should Not Include Soft Drinks Or Fruit Juice
Added sugar is a big problem in the modern diet.
Generally speaking, the sugar that is added to our food and drink products are 50% glucose and 50% fructose.
While glucose molecules are metabolised in the cell, fructose is metabolised in the liver. Further explanation is out of the scope of this article, but they behave very differently in the body.
Fructose intake, and not glucose intake, is strongly linked with gout.
Soft drinks and fruit juices tend to have the greatest amount of added sugar, and therefore the greatest amount of added fructose.
In fact, gout occurrence in the US has risen in line with fructose consumption since 1970 .
In a large study of over 46,000 men, researches found that two or more sugar-sweetened soft drinks a day was associated with an 85% increased risk of gout .
The largest consumers of sugar-sweetened soft drinks actually had a risk of gout comparable to the risk seen with three to five servings of alcohol.
Unfortunately the researchers did not account for family history of gout, which may or may not have changed their findings somewhat.
The strange thing out of all this, however, is that soft drinks dont typically contain purines.
Fructose is thought to be the culprit linking added sugars with gout. It appears to share the same mechanism as alcohol: fructose accelerates the breakdown of purine-containing nucleotides like ATP. This in turn drives up uric acid levels 90120-5/abstract” rel=”nofollow”> 13, 14, 15).
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What Role Do Purines Play
An estimated 70% of uric acid in the blood is made inside the body. This means that even by following a strict low-purine diet, it will only be possible to lower uric acid levels by 30% at the most. But not all foods are the same: Our bodies absorb purines differently from different foods, so it might not make sense to avoid all foods that contain purines especially if you already eat a balanced diet. There are no high-quality studies on the effectiveness of strict low-purine diets. Besides, they can be quite difficult to stick to.
Less Meats Less Purines Less Uric Acid
Gout patients are instructed to avoid purines, but a purine-free diet does not exist. Purines are usually found in the same foods that contain proteins.
Remember, purines are necessary to build DNA and synthesize proteins in the body. It would be highly unlikely to remain healthy if you avoided purine entirely.
Foods vary in purine content similar to calories, proteins, and sugars. Nevertheless, research confirms diets consisting of animal meats and seafood with high-purine content trigger gout more frequently than diets consisting of only fruits, vegetables and legumes.
Except for pescatarians, all vegetarians and vegans refrain from eating meat and seafood. These two major food groups include foods with the highest amount of purines. If foods like beef, pork, animal organs, fish, and shellfish are excluded, then less likely uric acid levels will increase.
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What Should I Consider If I Take Medication
There are certain medications that can raise the levels of uric acid, thereby increasing the risk of gout. These include diuretics , acetylsalicylic acid and some medications that are taken after an organ transplant. Levodopa and some cancer medications can also increase the risk of gout.
If you take any of these medications, it’s best to discuss with your doctor whether it would be possible to switch to a different medication.
Gout Diet: 7 Foods To Eat 7 Foods To Avoid
Why do certain foods cause painful gout symptoms? Our bodies produce uric acid as it digests some types of foods and excess uric acid can accumulate in our joints as crystals. Healthy individuals can usually filter out much of the extra uric acid however, for those who have underlying health conditions or elderly adults whose body processes have slowed down, uric acid builds up.
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Achieve A Healthy Weight
Obesity may be a primary consideration to reduce levels of uric acid in the blood. Insulin resistance is commonly seen in those who are obese and it may be involved in the development of gout. Insulin resistance has been shown to decrease the amount of uric acid that is cleared in the urine. A condition known as the ‘metabolic syndrome’ is a cluster of symptoms which includes insulin resistance, along with tummy obesity, high blood pressure and abnormal blood fats – for example, high cholesterol. This condition is strongly associated with high uric acid levels, which can be improved with slow, gradual weight loss.
Weight loss has been shown to improve insulin resistance and therefore reduce uric acid levels in the blood. However, it is important to avoid strict diets such as low-carbohydrate and high-protein diets. These may increase consumption of purines, a compound that breaks down into uric acid. Additionally, rapid weight loss through strict dieting can result in breakdown of tissue. This can temporarily cause a rise in uric acid levels. A gradual, safe weight loss of 1-2 lbs a week can help to achieve an optimal body weight.
What Can You Drink If You Have Gout
Foods arenât the only thing that can affect uric acid. What you drink matters, too.
Itâs a good idea to drink lots of fluids — 8 to 16 cups a day. At least half of what you drink should be water. Vitamin C also can help lower uric acid, but studies also show that the high fructose in OJ may boost uric acid levels, so drink it in moderation. Caffeinated coffee can cut uric acid, too, as long as you donât overdo it.
Stay away from sugary drinks like soda and fruit juice. You also may need to limit or avoid alcohol as well. Talk with your doctor to find out whatâs right for you.
While a healthy diet can help control how much uric acid is in your system, you may still need medicine to prevent future attacks. Talk with your doctor about all your treatment options.
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Why Do People Get Gout
Gout is a type of arthritis causing pain and swelling in the joints. The symptoms usually occur as flares lasting for a week or two and then go away. Gout flares usually start in the big toe or a lower limb.
The disease happens when the body has high levels of a substance called uric acid or urate. When high levels of uric acid build up, the needle-shaped urate crystals form in and around the joints. This causes inflammation and arthritis of the affected joint. Many people with high serum uric acid, however, may not develop gout.
Some factors may increase a persons risk for gout, including
Gout is a lifelong disease and cannot be cured. The disease, however, is one of the most controllable forms of arthritis. It can be effectively managed with early diagnosis, medications and lifestyle changes.
If You Have Gout A Painful Type Of Arthritis You May Be Trying To Limit Purines In Your Diet Heres What You Need To Know To Get Started
Has your doctor suggested that you or someone you love go on a low-purine diet to help with the painful symptoms of gout? If so, its important to understand what a low-purine diet is, and how it may help manage gout as part of your overall gout treatment plan.
Gout is a type of arthritis that develops when high levels of a chemical called uric acid in the blood cause uric acid crystals to build up in a joint. This can lead to inflammation and pain, often in the big toe, as well as other joints. Gout attacks, or flares, are often extremely and suddenly painful and debilitating.
In most people, the body produces a manageable amount of uric acid, and the kidneys eliminate any excess through the urine. In a person with gout, however, the body doesnt have good control over the amount of uric acid in the blood. The goal of gout treatment is to lower the level of uric acid back to normal so it wont cause problems, says Calvin R. Brown, Jr., MD, professor of medicine at the Feinberg School of Medicine of Northwestern University in Chicago. Depending on your specific needs, a combination of medication to manage gout and lifestyle changes, including a low-purine diet, can help you reach that target.
Its very important to get uric acid levels to a healthy level and keep them there. Without proper treatment, gout flares can become more frequent, affect more joints, and lead to bone and joint damage as well as these other significant gout complications.
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