What Is Uric Acid
Uric acid is a waste byproduct of purine breakdown in the body. Purines are naturally produced in the body, as well as found in some foods. As purines are broken down, uric acid is created. Normally uric acid is either reabsorbed in the body or excreted via the urine and feces.
When there are more purines in the body than it can process, uric acid builds up in the bloodstream. This is called hyperuricemia. Hyperuricemia can cause gout and/or kidney stones in some people, while others have no signs or symptoms at all.
Verywell / Alexandra Gordon
Treatment for gout often includes medications, diet modification, and lifestyle changes, such as managing weight and quitting smoking. The foods you eat can have a direct impact on gout flares.
During a gout attack, modifying your diet may help decrease the length of the flare. Continuing to follow a gout-friendly diet, specifically a low-purine diet, may help prevent the risk of future gout attacks up to five fold.
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.
How Does Alcohol Affect People With Gout
Alcohol disrupts the removal of uric acid from the body. Its thought that high levels of purine in alcoholic beverages lead to this disruption.
Normally, purines would break down into uric acid and get flushed out of the body through urine. However, this process is interrupted when uric acid levels get too high. Crystals form around the joints, and gout develops.
To prevent further gout attacks, stick to these guidelines:
- avoid alcohol when having an attack
- limit wine consumption
- avoid beer
Keep in mind that you should avoid alcohol altogether unless your doctor says otherwise. Gout-friendly recipes take these alcohol restrictions into account as well.
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Red Tart Cherry Juice
Red tart cherry juice contains a compound called anthocyanins, which are the pigments that give cherries their bright red color and are also believed to be the key to helping the body relieve inflammation.
This has to lead to Red Tart Cherries is one of the safest, most natural, and popular treatments for gout.
How Does Drinking Alcohol Affect Gout
Alcoholic drinks tend to be high in purines and consuming more than the recommended amount can increase the risk of a gout attack. It is therefore recommended to limit alcohol intake, avoid binge drinking and avoid all alcohol if you have painful gout or are having a gout attack. Try limiting alcohol to a maximum of 14 units per week for both men and women and 1-2 units per day with a minimum of two alcohol-free days a week. Beer, stout, port and fortified wines tend to be higher in purines and should be restricted. Moderate consumption of wine is not associated with a significant increased risk.
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What You Can Eat On A Gout Diet
Gout is most often caused by a diet high in purines, which are found in animal foods, but also are rich in many vegetables and fruits. A gout diet is a diet that is low in purine-rich foods, which many believe can cause gout. It is more of a lifestyle change than a diet per se.
The food you eat has a big impact on your health. Of course, we know that there are some foods that are good for us and some foods that make us sick. Gout is one of those foods that are high in uric acid, so it should be avoided.
Although there is no known cure, there are certain foods you can eat to reduce gout symptoms. Fortunately, these foods are healthy, making them a good choice to eat to prevent gout attacks.
Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. Fruits and vegetables have high amounts of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, all of which play an important role in good health.
Foods High In Purines
The body produces purine compounds, and people also ingest them from food.
Purines can increase the risk of urate crystals forming in the joints and tissues, so avoiding them in food can help manage the condition.
Arthritis Foundation advises which foods and drinks contain high or moderate amounts of purines:
- all types of alcoholic drinks
- some fish, including sardines, anchovies, trout, herring, and haddock
- shellfish and seafood, such as mussels, scallops, crab, lobster, oysters, and shrimp
- high purine meats, such as bacon, turkey, veal, sausage, and venison
- moderate purine meats, such as beef, chicken, pork, duck, and ham
- organ meats, such as liver, kidneys, and sweetbreads
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The Ultimate List Of 14 Foods To Avoid With Gout
You may have come across the word Gout quite frequently in your life, but never really understood what it refers to. Gout is in fact an agonizing form of arthritis which aim at and attack any joint of a persons body and cause trouble, mostly the joints of the feet. What happens is that uric acid crystals tend to grow and form a home in the joints which is one of the primary causes since it calls for swelling as well as an unbearable pain.
What may cause the birth of such an unimaginable situation would be certain foods that carry a higher concentration of purine in them ultimately causing your uric acid level to shoot up. This, as a result leads to gout, a condition caused due to intake of certain nutrition.
Even if you are suffering from this condition or you happen to digest certain foods that have gotten you close to gout being a part of your life, you can still make some necessary changes in your life right now that help you fight this disease in no time without having to go through any trips to the doctor.
Frequent Consumption Of Certain Fruits May Trigger Recurrent Gout Attacks
High sugar drinks may not be the only stimulant of gout flare ups.
Certain fruits which are a natural source of fructose have also been linked with gout.
This is a highly contentious area, because several studies have linked higher fruit intake with less incidence of gout. This is probably due to their high fibre content .
And unlike fruit juice and other sugar-sweetened drinks, whole fruits are nutritious and generally good for health. There is no disputing this.
However, if you continually have gout attacks despite cutting out alcohol and sugar-sweetened drinks then Im not convinced a large amount of fruits are safe for you. Especially if you are overweight and eat a Western diet.
So cutting back on certain very high-fructose fruits is like a Plan D, if you will.
The link comes back to fructose, which stimulates uric acid production in a similar manner to alcohol. Fructose is naturally found in fruit and honey.
One study found that the consumption of apples or oranges the most popular fruits in this study was linked with an increased risk of gout compared to those who consume less than one serving of fruit per month. No link was found with other fruits however .
While most fruits are very low in fructose, a few are very high. Frequent consumption of these could theoretically causes problems for gout sufferers.
Foods Highest in Fructose per 200 Calories :
Note this list is ranked on a per calorie basis, not per serving.
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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.
Foods You Can Eat In Moderation
Aside from organ meats, game meats and certain fish, most meats can be consumed in moderation. You should limit yourself to 46 ounces of these a few times per week .
They contain a moderate amount of purines, which is considered to be 100200 mg per 100 grams. Thus, eating too much of them may trigger a gout attack.
- Meats: These include chicken, beef, pork and lamb.
- Other fish: Fresh or canned salmon generally contains lower levels of purines than most other fish.
Summary: Foods you should eat with gout include all fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, eggs and most beverages. Limit your consumption of non-organ meats and fish like salmon to servings of 46 ounces a few times weekly.
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What Foods Should You Avoid
If youre susceptible to sudden gout attacks, avoid the main culprits high-purine foods.
These are foods that contain more than 200 mg of purines per 3.5 ounces .
You should also avoid high-fructose foods, as well as moderately-high-purine foods, which contain 150200 mg of purines per 3.5 ounces. These may trigger a gout attack.
Here are a few major high-purine foods, moderately-high-purine foods and high-fructose foods to avoid (
- meats: These include liver, kidneys, sweetbreads and brain
- meats: Examples include pheasant, veal and venison
- Fish: Herring, trout, mackerel, tuna, sardines, anchovies, haddock and more
- seafood: Scallops, crab, shrimp and roe
- Sugary beverages: Especially fruit juices and sugary sodas
- Added sugars: Honey, agave nectar and high-fructose corn syrup
- Yeasts: Nutritional yeast, brewers yeast and other yeast supplements
Additionally, refined carbs like white bread, cakes and cookies should be avoided. Although they are not high in purines or fructose, they are low in nutrients and may raise your uric acid levels (
Summary: If you have gout, you should avoid foods like organ meats, game meats, fish and seafood, sugary beverages, refined carbs, added sugars and yeast.
What Food To Eat
Now that you know what foods to avoid, how do you know what foods are safe to eat? Your gout diet should include plenty of the foods on this list as they produce no or very little uric acid when digested.
- Fruits and vegetables: all fruits and vegetables are fine and cherries could even help prevent attacks of gout as it lowers uric acid levels
- Whole grains: oats, barley, brown rice, others
- Dairy: low-fat dairy products provide many benefits as part of a gout diet
- Legumes: beans and lentils are great proteins as are soybeans and tofu
- Nuts: nuts and seeds like almonds and sunflower seeds
- Drinks: coffee and tea
- Oils: when cooking, stick to plant-based oils like olive oil or canola oil
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The Correlation Between Kidney Disease And Gout
Most uric acid dissolves in the blood and passes through the kidneys in the form of urine. However, when kidneys dont function as they used to, uric acid can remain in the body for too long and can crystallize, which can then lead to gout. These crystals can damage and scar as they pass through the kidneys, contributing to kidney disease and kidney failure over time. They can accumulate in the joints, outer warm, and the skin near the joints. Some people with hyperuricemia— high concentrations of uric acid levels in the blood do not develop gout. Even when they do, they can go for years without showing any symptoms.
Using Tart Cherry Juice For Gout
Tart cherry juice may help decrease uric acid levels and inflammation in gout. Research is limited, with often small numbers of study participants and short-term follow-up.
Nevertheless, a 2019 review of six studies that looked at the effect of cherry juice or cherry extract intake on gout concluded that cherry intake was associated with a reduced risk of gout attacks. Researchers did note that larger, more long-term studies are needed to clarify this association.
When choosing tart cherry juice, be sure to look for unsweetened varieties to help reduce the amount of added sugar in your diet.
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Low Purine Foods: Safe To Eat In Higher Quantities
The following foods are lower in purine, so they will have a minimal impact on your bodys uric acid levels:
- Most vegetables not listed above
- Any type of fruit
- High-carb products pasta, rice, bread, and popcorn.
- Nuts peanut butter, peanuts, cashews, almonds, and all other types of nuts.
- Low-fat dairy milk, yogurt, and cheese
- Eggs and egg whites
Sodas And Sugary Drinks
Sodas and sugary drinks are considered empty-calorie foods, because they contain no beneficial nutrients while contributing a lot of calories to your diet.
For example, a 12-ounce can of cola contains about 150 calories and 40 grams, or about 9.5 teaspoons, of added sugars. In addition, sugar-sweetened beverages have been associated with an increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, weight gain, and dental caries.
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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.
Joe Leech, Dietitian
Processed Foods And Refined Carbs
The modern Western diet is often high in processed foods and refined carbohydrates. In addition, processed foods and refined carbohydrates have been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and weight gain.
A 2017 study looked at gout incidence in people who followed either a Western diet or the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet. The researcher found the DASH diet was associated with a lower risk of gout, whereas the Western diet was associated with a higher risk of gout.
To help prevent gout symptoms, its best to limit highly processed foods and beverages and foods high in refined carbohydrates, such as sweets, baked goods and pastries, chips, crackers, cookies, candies, soda, ice cream, white breads, and some pre-made frozen meals.
Eating highly processed foods and refined carbohydrates in moderation will not only help with your gout, but your overall health as well.
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Plenty Of Starchy Carbohydrates
These may include rice, potatoes, pasta, bread, couscous, quinoa, barley or oats, and should be included at each meal time. These foods contain only small amounts of purines, so these along with fruit and vegetables should make up the basis of your meals. Wholegrain varieties are better choices as they contain more fibre and nutrients.
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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What Foods To Avoid
Many of the foods you want to avoid are meats and seafood. Meats such as chicken, pork, beef, or lamb are usually okay in moderation however, if you find they cause symptoms you will want to avoid them altogether. Salmon, as part of a gout diet, is also usually tolerated well in moderation.
- Yeast:beer, nutritional yeast, large amounts of bread, others
- Game meats: venison, veal, bison, others
- Organ meats: liver, tongue, tripe, others
- Fish: including sardines and anchovies
- Other seafood: shellfish, roe, others
- Sugary drinks: sodas, fruit juice, others
- Sugar substances: honey, nectar, high-fructose corn syrup, others
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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Be Choosy About Carbs
Carbs can be helpful or harmful to your gout health. The most helpful carbs are found in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Sweet potatoes, beans, apples, and popcorn can all be served in wholesome and delicious ways as part of a healthy gout diet.
Other carbs come as natural and refined sugars. Candy, sports drinks, some breakfast cereal, and some pasta sauces all contribute to dietary sugar from unhealthy carbs.