How Is Gout Affected By Diet
Gout is a type of arthritis that is associated with elevated levels of uric acid in the blood. High levels of uric acid can cause crystals to form in the joints, causing pain and swelling. Uric acid is a normal waste product formed from the breakdown of food, particularly compounds called purines. It is believed that lowering uric acid levels through small changes in your diet may help reduce the chance of future gout attacks.
A healthy, balanced diet may help reduce the risk of gout attacks.
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
- Male gender
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.
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.
Further discussion of best treatment for gout is outside the scope of this article. But there are foods thought to be protective namely dairy, cherries, and coffee, in decreasing order of evidence.
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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What Foods Are Allowed
If you have gout, it’s essential that you drink a lot of water, about 2 to 3 liters a day, so that the uric acid accumulated in the blood can be eliminated through urine producion. In addition, it’s important to include diuretic foods in your daily diet, such as:
- Watercress, beetroot, celery, peppers, pumpkin, onion, cucumber, parsley, garlic
- Apple, orange, watermelon, passion fruit, strawberry, melon
- Skimmed milk and milk products.
In addition, you can also add some anti-inflammatory foods such as olive oil, which can be used in salads, citrus fruits, flaxseed, sesame seeds, and chia seeds, that can be added to fruit juices or yogurts. These types of food can help decrease pain and joint inflammation.
You Can’t Avoid All Purines
There are too many sources of purines to eliminate them all from your diet. You will stay healthier overall if you eat some foods with purines. Remember that vegetable purines have never been shown to promote gout attacks, and that low-fat dairy products are protein sources that lower your risk of gout pain. People with gout can still enjoy meat in moderation, but should limit meat, fish, and poultry to 4 to 6 ounces a day.
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Is High Fructose Corn Syrup A Problem
Yes, absolutely. High-fructose corn syrup is a known factor for gout flare-ups because it raises uric acid levels in your body. Its also used in far more pre-packaged and processed foods than you might think. When youre grocery shopping, always check nutrition labels. If corn syrup is an ingredient in a product, dont buy it.
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.
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Foods High In Purines But Safe
How Does Food Affect Gout
If you have gout, certain foods may trigger an attack by raising your uric acid levels.
Trigger foods are commonly high in purines, a substance found naturally in foods. When you digest purines, your body makes uric acid as a waste product .
This is not a concern for healthy people, as they efficiently remove excess uric acid from the body.
However, people with gout cant efficiently remove excess uric acid. Thus, a high-purine diet may let uric acid accumulate and cause a gout attack (
Foods that commonly trigger gout attacks include organ meats, red meats, seafood, alcohol and beer. They contain a moderate-to-high amount of purines .
However, there is one exception to this rule. Research shows that high-purine vegetables do not trigger gout attacks .
And interestingly, fructose and sugar-sweetened beverages can increase the risk of gout and gout attacks, even though theyre not purine-rich (
For instance, a study including over 125,000 participants found that people who consumed the most fructose had a 62% higher risk of developing gout .
On the other hand, research shows that low-fat dairy products, soy products and vitamin C supplements may help prevent gout attacks by reducing blood uric acid levels (
Summary: Foods can either raise or lower your uric acid levels, depending on their purine content. However, fructose can raise your uric acid levels even though it is not purine-rich.
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Gout Diet: What’s Allowed What’s Not
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Jul 2, 2020.
Gout is a painful form of arthritis that occurs when high levels of uric acid in the blood cause crystals to form and accumulate in and around a joint.
Uric acid is produced when the body breaks down a chemical called purine. Purine occurs naturally in your body, but it’s also found in certain foods. Uric acid is eliminated from the body in urine.
A gout diet may help decrease uric acid levels in the blood. A gout diet isn’t a cure. But it may lower the risk of recurring gout attacks and slow the progression of joint damage.
People with gout who follow a gout diet generally still need medication to manage pain and to lower levels of uric acid.
What Is A Low
A low-purine diet involves reducing your intake of certain foods to decrease the purine metabolism pathways, which are responsible for converting purines into uric acid.
Healthy whole foods like fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds and legumes are all encouraged as part of the diet while ingredients like red meat, seafood, wild game and organ meats should be consumed only in moderation.
Foods high in fructose, which is a type of simple sugar, should also be limited. Fructose is broken down into purine, which can increase levels of uric acid in the body. Although fructose is found naturally in fruits, these foods are also high in fiber, vitamins and minerals that can offset any negative effects.
Conversely, soft drinks, fruit juice and processed foods all typically contain a concentrated amount of fructose and should be limited on a low-purine diet.
Low-purine diets are recommended for those with gout or certain types of kidney stones to prevent flare-ups and minimize symptoms. A low-purine diet for dogs is also sometimes recommended to prevent uric acid kidney stones from forming in certain breeds who may be more susceptible.
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High Purine Vegetables Are Ok
Some vegetables and plant foods, such as peas, beans, lentils, spinach, mushrooms, oats, and cauliflower, are high in purines. However, several studies have shown that they do not increase the risk of gout.
In fact, the opposite seems to be true, with a vegetable-rich diet being associated with a lower risk of gout compared with the lower consumption of vegetables. Therefore, you do not need to limit or avoid any vegetables on a gout-friendly diet.
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.
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What Is The Recommended Diet For Gout Sufferers
There are no foods that can completely prevent the symptoms of gout, but a diet low in purines may help to reduce the frequency of attacks. Following a nutritionally balanced, healthy diet that is low in saturated and trans fats and rich in unprocessed foods can help to reduce the risk of gout attacks. Care needs to be taken with certain vegetables such as asparagus, beans, cauliflower, lentils, mushrooms and spinach as these contain medium levels of purines.
While these dont need to be avoided completely, portion size is important a moderate intake should not increase the risks of gout. All other vegetables should be eaten freely. There is also evidence to suggest that a high consumption of low-fat dairy products , limiting sugary drinks and having a daily vitamin C supplement of 500mg may reduce the risk of gout. Speak to your GP before starting new supplements or altering your diet to manage gout.
It is important to note that it is the quantity of purine-rich food consumed that is more important than the purine content in each food. However, if a patient is keen to measure quantities of food, a maximum total daily purine intake of around 200mg is recommended.
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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Foods That Have High Uric Acid
You should correct an excess of uric acid to avoid long term health problems and loss of quality of life. Changing a few dietary habits can be very beneficial.
If you suffer from this health problem, you should avoid some foods. Although you should keep in mind that were not talking about prohibited foods, just foods you should limit.
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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Should I Avoid All Rich Foods
No. Patients often ask me about desserts, as well as entrees with rich sauces, says Dr. Burg. Its a common myth that these foods cause gout. When eaten in moderation, desserts and other rich foods do not affect gout flare-ups. But moderation is the key word. Rich foods may not cause flare-ups directly, but they can cause weight gain. And obesity is a major risk factor for gout attacks.
At some point, the misconception spread that people with gout should avoid dairy. But in fact, certain dairy products especially milk can help you remove uric acid from your body, he adds.
Gout Diet: Dos And Donts
Maintaining a balanced diet, low in uric acid, is critical for lowering the risk of a gout attack. Learn which foods and beverages you should eat and which ones to avoid.
1. What You Eat and Drink Matters
2. DO: Drink Water
3. DONT: Drink Beer
4. DO: Drink Milk
5. DONT: Drink Liquor
6. DO: Drink Coffee
7. DONT: Drink Soda
8. Do: Eat Citrus
9. DONT: Eat Organ Meats
10. DO: Eat Vegetable Proteins
11. DONT: Eat Certain Seafood
12. DO: Eat Cherries
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List Of Foods Not To Eat When Battling Gout
Gout is a form of arthritis that results in painful crystals of uric acid forming in one or more joints. In many cases, gout is associated with overconsumption of certain foods including alcohol, meats and seafood. Gout can be effectively treated with a combination of medications and dietary guidelines limiting foods that produce high levels of uric acid.
Chicken Beef And Other Meats Appear To Be Foods To Avoid With Gout
The conversion of purines to uric acid, in theory, causes gout.
Therefore high-purine foods are often suspected to trigger symptoms.
Meat, and to a lesser extent seafood, are prime suspects. This includes all the most common meats like beef, chicken, pork and lamb.
The data available somewhat confirms suspicions.
Each additional daily serving of meat or seafood is associated with a 21% or 7% increased risk of gout, respectively . This implies meat could be three times worse than seafood.
There was another similar study that found even greater risks associated with meat intake, but none for seafood. Overall this suggests seafood is far less of a concern than meat .
For those who already have gout, the impact of meat intake on symptoms is even worse. This is likely due to sharper increases in blood uric acid, as well as poorer clearance by the body .
Therefore if you have a history of gout, it is best to dramatically reduce your meat intake, and seafood as well to a lesser extent. Anecdotal evidence suggests avoiding dark part of salmon, and de-veining prawns/shrimp before eating.
You should also buy your meat direct from the butcher where possible, or at least the better quality choices in the supermarket. Sausages and low-quality ground beef may contain traces of organ meat that can cause big problems .
Summary: Frequent consumption of meat is strongly linked with gout risk. The impact of seafood appears far less severe, but there is a link.
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Nutritional Value And Purine Content In Fish
Certain fish dishes are great sources of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, lean protein, and essential vitamins and minerals, including antioxidants in vitamins B2, B12, and vitamin D. However, eating seafood, including fish, is also a well-recognized risk factor for increased uric acid levels in the blood, which leads to a gout attack. All fish should be eaten in moderation if you have gout or are at risk of gout due to hyperuricemia.
Plenty Of Fruit And Vegetables
The recommendation is five portions per day, but try to include as many as possible. Bulking out meals, such as Bolognese, casseroles and stews with vegetables can help to reduce the meat content. Fruit and vegetables contain vitamin C. Although evidence is unclear, high intakes of vitamin C may help to reduce uric acid levels in the blood. Cherries may be particularly useful to include in the diet, as they have also been found to reduce levels of uric acid in the blood.
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