Foods That Cause Gout Flare Ups
Sep 21, 2018Kate HarvestonSave For Later
The development of gout is influenced by several uncontrollable factors like genetics and age, which means the best way to prevent the swelling and intense pain of a gout attack is to work with a doctor regularly. However, some factors that contribute to gout, such as diet and weight, are more under an individuals control.
Because suffering from gout can be so painful, many people may want to take measures to prevent flare-ups as much as possible. Luckily, by avoiding certain gout-inducing foods in addition to taking medication and following a doctors recommendations its possible to prevent some attacks.
Can Changing Your Drinking Habits Prevent Gout
When you have gout, its important to keep your uric acid levels as low as possible to avoid a flare-up. Because alcohol increases uric acid levels, many doctors will recommend drinking only in moderation or cutting back significantly.
If you enjoy alcohol, making simple changes to your drinking habits may help avoid future flare-ups. Even if you dont have gout, avoiding heavy drinking may even help prevent a first-time gout experience.
Needing To Drink Water A Lot
Drinking water is a really easy way to improve your digestion â your body needs H2O to flush out the byproducts of processing your meals, a process your liver and kidneys do without much help. But meat is high in sodium, which can throw off your bodyâs natural balance of fluids if you have too much. If you find yourself reaching for your comically oversized water bottle after eating meat, it could be a sign that your body isnât having fun digesting that hamburger.
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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.
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
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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.
Processed Meat And Gout
As a gout sufferer, you are probably already aware that certain red meats and organ meats are high in purines therefore, consumption of this food group should be limited. There are already several studies proving that individuals with diets consisting of processed sweet, salty food as well as red and processed meats are at higher risk for gout.
Take note that these processed meats are the worst offenders when it comes to gout. They are very high in saturated fat and sodium and should avoided as much as possible.
Too much salt is bad for your gout condition. It damages your kidneys making it not function as efficiently as it should to excrete uric acid. One study published in Circulation says that those with high salt intake had higher levels of urine albumin excretion and serum uric acid. This puts them at higher risk for hypertension.
Albumin in your urine is also a sign that you have kidney damage. To make it even worse, salty foods are designed to be addictive. It may not sound so crazy after all to think that people with unhealthy habits tend to eat processed meat too. Its not just a habit just but an addiction that keeps them coming back for more.
When shopping for meat, we often use pinkness as a measure of its freshness. However, this does not apply to processed meats. If bacon, ham, or salami is pink, you can best be assured that its been treated with nitrates and nitrites to hide its greyish brown color.
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Dont Be Scared Of Beans Legumes Vegetables
The most inconsistent recommendations are for beans, legumes and certain vegetables. No source indicated to avoid these food groups. However, many state they are high risk like some seafood.
From this particular purine table, beans, lentils and peanuts have far less purines than the other food groups mentioned previously. Therefore, they are not as high-risk for gout. Keep in mind, cured or dried food, such as beans, will have a higher purine concentration per weight because of shrinkage.
Some sources caution eating asparagus, cauliflower, peas, chickpeas, spinach and broccoli because it contains more purines than most vegetables. However, the purine amounts for asparagus, spinach and broccoli are less than half of pork or beef. Lastly, a recent study concluded purine-rich vegetables are less of a risk than animal based purines.
Choose A Diet You Can Live With
If you are overweight, losing weight can protect you from gout flare-ups. However, losing weight fast can do more harm than good for gout, as rapid weight loss can raise uric acid levels in your bloodstream. Avoid fad diets and “crash” diets. Consider consulting a dietician, who can help you choose a diet plan that works for you.
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How Will Gout Affect Me
Attacks can vary from person to person. Some people only have an attack every few years, while others have attacks every few months.
Without medication attacks tend to happen more often and other joints can become affected.
Having high urate levels and gout for a long time can lead to other health problems, including:
- narrowing of the arteries – which can lead to an increased risk of stroke or heart attacks or other heart problems
- osteoarthritis, which occurs when the urate crystals and hard tophi cause joint damage.
- an increased risk of developing kidney disease or worsening of the condition if you already have it
- kidney stones
- an increased risk of some cancers, especially prostate cancer
- mental health problems, including depression
- underactive thyroid
- erectile dysfunction in men.
If you take medication to lower your urate levels, and have a healthy diet and lifestyle, most of the damage and complications caused by gout can be stopped.
Treatments for gout are incredibly successful. There are two main parts to treating gout, which are:
- treating the acute attack
- treatments to prevent future attacks.
Controlling Gout: 6 Foods To Avoid
May 18, 2017
Gout is a form of arthritis that happens when the uric acid levels in your blood get too high. Uric acid forms needle-like crystals in your joints. Commonly affected joints include your big toe, ankles, elbows, knees, wrists, and fingers.
Purine is a chemical in the body that is broken down into uric acid and then removed from the body through urine. Too much purine can lead to too much uric acid.
Though you cannot cure gout with diet changes, you can decrease the risk of gout flare-ups and long-term damage to your joints. Here are a few rules of a gout diet, including foods to avoid and foods to eat more of when you have gout.
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Processed Meat And Other Harmful Substances
Processed meat tends to be saltier than any other type of meat. They have four times the amount of salt than red meat and they contain more 50% more preservatives. This is a huge contributing factor to the risk it poses to people who consume processed meat. In addition, sodium reduces ones tolerance to sugars which can only mean that your risk for diabetes increases.
The list of dangerous chemicals doesnt just stop at nitrites. Certain processed meats contain harmful compounds such as PAHs and HCAs . These chemicals are formed in the process of curing meat via burning or smoking meat.
Other harmful ingredients found in processed meat include:
- Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
Sneaky Gout Triggers: Yeast Extract Msg Fructose Sauces
Yeast extract and MSGâYeast extract plus other additives is basically MSG . MSG powder contains purines that immediately metabolizes to uric acid. Although there is proof linking yeast to purine content via alcoholic beverages, only a few sources warn yeast extract as a high-risk gout trigger.
MSG and yeast extract are flavor-enhancers in several products such as processed meat, canned food, bouillon, sauces, soup mixes, gravies, and salad dressings. Since the ingredient percentages are not typically listed or shared, it is very risky for people with chronic gout .
Manufactures will camouflage MSG by listing these these sub-ingredients instead of yeast extract, protein isolate, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, hydrolyzed yeast, and soy extracts.
MSG is not only associated with gout. It is also linked to other health problems and allergies. Known side effects from MSG overconsumption are heart palpitations, headaches, numbness and drowsiness.
Fructose â Even though there is plenty of evidence that fructose causes the body to produce purines, most major sources did not account for it as a major gout trigger. Research from 2016 linked fructose consumption to increased uric acid levels which leads to gout flares.
Sauces â Popular sauces that may cause or contain purines are fish sauce, worcestershire sauce , oyster sauce, barbecue sauce , and Maggi seasoning .
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Dietary Tips For Managing Gout
If you focus on these goals, you may be able to have your meat and eat it too 🙂
What Increases Your Chances For Gout
The following make it more likely that you will develop hyperuricemia, which causes gout:
- Being male
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Red Meat Is Linked To Diabetes
In a major study combining data from nearly 150,000 participants over two decades , researchers found that people who increased their consumption of red meat over time also increased their risk of developing type-2 diabetes by 48 percent. The link may be more related to obesity, says Smith, since high consumption is a risk factor for obesity, and obesity is a risk factor for diabetes.
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Complex Carbohydrates Can Keep Gout Away
Complex carbohydrates can reduce gout flares, but it depends on what form they take. Fructose is a type of sugar in honey and fruits. Its breakdown almost immediately increases serum purine levels and the risk of a gout attack. Fruits, whole grains, and vegetables are complex carbohydrates that are great for managing gout because they are digested slowly. While fresh fruits are beneficial, people with gout need to limit or avoid naturally sweet fruit juices with their high concentrations of fructose.
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My Beef With The Meat
- We are not eating any more meat now than we did 100 years ago.
- Some cultures eating lots of meat, including 19th century Arctic peoples who lived on a diet of nearly 100% animal foods, did not develop gout. Gout is unknown in Eskimos and Northern Indians despite their purine-rich diet.1
- Animal foods are higher in protein than plant foods. Proteins increase the elimination of purines in the urine, which can actually lower uric acid levels.
- Some plant foods are rich in purines, including legumes, spinach, asparagus, and mushrooms .
- Purines in the diet do not have much of an effect on uric acid levels, because most of the uric acid in the blood comes from inside the body, as part of everyday cell turnover: The purine content of the diet does not usually contribute more than 1 mg/dl to the serum urate concentration.2
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Aspirin And Diuretics Significantly Increase Gout Risk
Not exactly foods to avoid with gout, but the ingestion of some common medications sharply raise the risk of a gout attack.
Specifically, low doses of aspirin, which one in three middle-aged Americans takes regularly to help prevent heart disease .
The emphasis is on low doses because aspirin has a dual effect on uric acid levels. Very high doses above 3,000 mg promotes excretion of uric acid , whereas low doses prevent excretion .
In a study of 49 elderly patients, just 75 mg of aspirin per day increased blood uric acid levels by 6% within one week. A daily dose of 150 mg kept levels high during the second week, before coming down with 300 mg doses in the third week .
Considering the typical dose for heart disease prevention is 81-325 mg per day, it is no real surprise this dosage is associated with a doubling in gout risk. In fact, even the use of a low-dose aspirin for two consecutive days increases risk of recurrent gout attacks .
Im by no means recommending you cease your medications if you have gout, but its important to understand the pharmaceutical triggers. First speak with your doctor and closely monitor uric acid levels before making any changes.
And if you need a temporary painkiller, choose paracetamol or ibuprofen. No aspirin.
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Processed Meats And Gout Explained
Meat is not really indicated if you suffer from gout. It is rich in purines, which are the main things you have to pay attention to. On the other hand, red meat is worse than other options due to even higher amounts of purines.
Now, processed meats go even further than that. In theory, there is not much more to worry about when considering processed meats and gout. You get similar amounts of purines. Red meat is highly contraindicated, while other meats should be eaten in small amounts that if you truly need to eat meat. The processed profile does not necessarily affect the gout, but it can cause other issues.
Processed meats are rich in nitrites a bit of saltiness and a pink color. Nitrites also prevent food poisoning. But at the same time, nitrites are carcinogenic and can lead to cancer related compounds around the body, hence the necessity to avoid them. Their risks become even more severe when the meat is cooked.