Healthy Eating When Considering Gout
Is there such a thing as a gout diet? Not really. But there are certain foods you should eatand others you should avoid such as those high in purinesto help prevent both gout in general and gout attacks.
If youre at risk for gout or youre concerned about getting it, its a good idea to watch what you eat. And if youve already been diagnosed with gout and youre looking for ways to help prevent gout attacks, you should pay attention to your diet, too. This article covers what foods to eatand not eatto help prevent gout and gout attacks.
Before starting a new diet, you should talk to your doctor. He or she might talk about how a poor diet may make you more at risk for gout or a gout attack if you have high levels of uric acid to begin with. Your doctor can also suggest ways to improve your diet.
What Is The Gout Diet
Gout is caused by high uric acid levels in your blood. Extra uric acid forms sharp crystals that settle in your joints, causing swelling and pain. But you can help reduce the amount of uric acid in your body by maintaining a low-purine diet. Reducing uric acid levels can help prevent new crystals from forming, reducing gout attacks.
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.
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There’s More To Gout Than Too Much Uric Acid
Before we dive into the list of foods to avoid with gout, it’s important to get to the root of what causes too much uric acid and who is at a higher risk.
First, no one is exempt from getting gout. Some people are just more sensitive to purine-rich foods and drinks and thus churn out more uric acid. Genes can play a significant role, so if you have a relative with gout, you might be at a higher risk.
Second, putting on weight through adulthood is associated with a higher risk of gout, according to research published in 2021 in the journal Arthritis Research and Therapy.
In an earlier study published in Arthritis and Rheumatology, overweight people were 85 percent more likely to have higher uric acid levels than people at a healthy weight.
What Are The Best Foods To Eat When You Have Gout
While eating particular foods wont be enough to make gout go away, studies suggest that certain foods and drinks may help reduce uric acid in your body. For example:
- Milk. Some early research suggests that drinking skim milk may help reduce uric acid and gout flare-ups. It speeds up the excretion of uric acid in your urine and also reduces your bodys inflammatory response to uric acid crystals in your joints.
- Cherries. Scientists are currently researching the benefits of cherries and cherry juice for managing gout symptoms, and early results are promising. Cherries have known anti-inflammatory properties, and they may also help reduce uric acid in your body.
- Coffee. You may have heard that coffee is acidic, but the type of acid in coffee is very different from uric acid. In fact, drinking coffee daily can reduce your uric acid levels by several means. It slows the breakdown of purine into uric acid and speeds the rate of excretion.
- Water. People who drink five to eight glasses of water a day are less likely to experience gout symptoms. This makes sense since your kidneys use water to excrete uric acid in your urine. Water is also good for kidney health. Impaired kidney function is one factor that can contribute to gout.
However, many healthcare providers prefer to focus on general dietary guidelines rather than particular foods. They suggest that you:
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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.
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.
Joe Leech, Dietitian
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Foods You Must Avoid If You Get Gout
If you have gout, you know all too well what it feels like to have attacks of pain in your joints.
The pain can be sudden and severe. Sometimes, sufferers wake up in the middle of the night feeling like their joints are on fire.
You want your joints to be flexible, strong, and painlessly aid the movements of your body. But gout steals all that from you. Youre left with stiffness and pain.
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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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.
Soups Broths And Gravies
Meat-based soups, broths, and gravies could be a double-whammy for people with gout, Stefanski says. That’s due to their high sodium content and purines.
These types of foods might not be totally off-limits, however. Instead, swap meat-heavy soup and broth for veggie-heavy options. A hearty lentil soup with antioxidant-rich veggies is lower in purines and can help lower inflammation.
But what about that Thanksgiving gravy? Try this delicious mushroom-based gravy to pour over your mashed potatoes.
Contrary to popular belief, mushrooms are actually OK to eat if you have gout. Keep reading to find out why.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Gout
Gout flares start suddenly and can last days or weeks. These flares are followed by long periods of remissionweeks, months, or yearswithout symptoms before another flare begins. Gout usually occurs in only one joint at a time. It is often found in the big toe. Along with the big toe, joints that are commonly affected are the lesser toe joints, the ankle, and the knee.
Symptoms in the affected joint may include:
- Pain, usually intense
Take A Vitamin C Supplement
Weve seen that vitamin C may help lower uric acid levels, but many people dont get all of the vitamins they need from diet alone. Some people add more vitamin C by drinking orange juice, but most of the fruit juice on store shelves has too much high-fructose or sucrose in it for gout patients.
That means a simple vitamin C supplement is a good idea for anyone at risk of developing gout.
NutriFlairs vitamin C supplements are vegan.
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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.
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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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.
Start Your Gout Prevention Diet Today
Its important to better balance your diet because it can help prevent both gout and gout attacks. Additionally, being overweight is a risk factor for gout, but eating a well-balanced diet can help you maintain a healthy weight.
If you follow a low-purine diet for gout but still develop gout or gout attacks, talk to your doctor about other treatments, such as medications, you can try to help prevent a future attack.
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Foods Contributing To Chronic Disease
Remember, the development of gout is also influenced by other chronic diseases including high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, heart failure and obesity. Studies have shown that losing weight lowers the risk of the disease.
Therefore preventing and treating gout means preventing and treating these other chronic diseases as well as effective weight management. While there are certainly some exceptions, the development and treatment of these chronic diseases is also strongly rooted in diet.
High salt diets are strongly associated with hypertension and congestive heart failure. A diet low in salt is a well described treatment for people with these conditions and is literally prescribed for this purpose.
The DASH diet is the most popular of these to date, and people who follow the DASH diet have been shown to have lower rates of gout .
Saturated fats such as fried foods are generally unhealthy choices. They contribute a significant amount of cholesterol and calories while providing very little positive nutritional value. They are a large culprit in the obesity epidemic and the associated comorbid disease.
Its recommended to use caution with processed foods because they so frequently contain either high levels of salt, sugar, saturated fat, empty calories or a combination of some or all of the above.
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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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Gout Foods Avoid List: Stimulant
People with gout also receive advice to limit alcohol, alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, strong coffee, tea, and cigarettes. Because they not only make osteoarthritis more serious but also lead to many other diseases. This group of foods also has the ability to stimulate more severe osteoarthritis pain, thereby negatively affecting the patients condition.
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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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Foods To Avoid With Gout
Some foods can increase the uric acid levels in your body, which may make it more likely that youll develop gout or a gout attack.
When you hear people talk about gout and diet, theyre most likely talking about purinessubstances that are found in foods high in protein. Eating too many foods abundant in purines can increase your chances of getting gout or having a gout attack.
Foods high in purines include:
Organ meats such as liver and beef kidneys
Certain types of seafood such as shrimp and scallops
You may have read that you should limit plant-based foods high in purines such as peas, dried beans, asparagus, and mushrooms. While its true that doctors used to recommend that people at risk for gout limit these foods, a 2004 New England Journal of Medicine found that theres no direct link between developing gout and eating these foods. The study found that eating protein or vegetables rich in purines in moderation is not linked to an increased risk of gout.³
The same 2004 study confirmed that eating an increased amount of meat and seafood are linked to an increased risk of gout.³
In addition to avoiding high-purine foods, you should also limit the amount of alcoholespecially beeryou drink. Researchers found that beer can increase uric acid levels in the blood. Also, alcohol can dehydrate you, and it interferes with the removal of uric acid from the body, which gets excreted in your urine.