Over 8.3 million Americans might benefit from the gout diet and a change of lifestyle. Find out why below.
In this article:
Gout Diet: What to Eat, What to Avoid, and How to Live with It
What Is Gout?
Gout is a kind of arthritis that is characteristic with an inflammation of the joints. It comes with sudden and severely painful attacks of swelling that can last 3-10 days.
Gout attacks occur when uric acid levels rise in the blood and form crystals around the joints. Uric acid is a by-product the body processing specific foods.
Fortunately, taking medications and following a gout diet can control severe symptoms.
What to Avoid on a Gout Diet
1. Alcoholic Beverages
Studies have shown that the consumption of alcoholic drinks, especially beer, can cause the development and/or worsening of gout. The reason for this is that alcohol has a very high purine content, and beverages such as beer are rich in brewer’s yeast which increase the risk of a gout attack.
What Is Purine?
Purine is a substance in both animal and plant foods that, that your body converts into uric acid upon consumption. Purine-rich foods include all kinds of alcoholic drinks, organ meats, veal, turkey, anchovies, sardines, mussels, and veal.
2. Organ Meats
The consumption of animals’ internal organs also has a high correlation to the occurrence of gout. Organ meats include livers, kidneys, hearts, sweetbreads, and offal.
3. Certain Kinds of Seafood
Though Omega-3 is beneficial for gout, most fish and seafood are high in purine content. High-purine fish and seafood include herring, anchovies, tuna, trout, herring roe, scallops, and clams.
Other types of seafood that are lower on the purine scale and should be eaten in moderate amounts are lobster, eel, crab, and shrimp.
4. Red Meat
Red meat is on the lower side on the purine content scale of foods gout sufferers should avoid. But, it still should be eaten in moderation.
Many people are often concerned about their protein intake when restricted from eating red meat. But, dietitians say that an average person actually needs much less protein than they are probably consuming in a day.
Dietitians recommend eating more alkaline proteins, which are present in plant-based foods.
5. Turkey and Goose Meat
Not all poultry are equal for those suffering from gout. Turkey and goose meat are particularly high in purine content compared to other purine-rich foods such as red meat and fish.
6. Sugary Drinks
Beverages like soda and juices should also not be on a gout sufferer’s grocery list. Not only will excessive consumption of sweet drinks lead to fast and unhealthy weight gain, but it can also provoke the body into producing uric acid.
High fructose corn syrup, a sweetener commonly found in large amounts in many easily available drinks, has been found to increase the risk of gout. Purine is released when the body processes fructose, which causes the production of uric acid.
What to Eat on a Gout Diet
Cherries are rich in antioxidants and have been linked to lower levels of uric acid. While it is unsure whether cherries impact signs and symptoms of gout itself, a 2003 study has shown that eating cherries regularly reduces inflammation markers, thereby lowering the risk of gout.
A diet rich in vegetables is a must for those suffering from gout. While vegetables like asparagus, spinach, and mushrooms contain purine, research shows that there is no correlation between eating them and getting gout, thanks to its other compounds that offset the purine content which is lower than in meats, to begin with.
Studies have shown that drinking coffee reduces the risk of gout. Data suggests that long term consumption of coffee — caffeinated or decaffeinated — is associated with lower risks of gout incidents.
While the caffeine present in coffee is related to lower uric acid levels, decaffeinated coffee also shows similar capabilities. Studies conclude that there may be other components of coffee that contribute to its beneficial properties.
Anthocyanin reverses the free radical damage in damaged kidney cells. It can also provide relief from the painful swelling, as well as lower uric acid levels.
Blackberries are also rich in anthocyanins and are even have the nickname “gout berry” because of its popular use as a treatment for gout. The same could also be said or raspberries, which are especially tasty as an addition to smoothies.
Strawberries are also a recommended berry for those with gout. Not only do they contain flavonoids, but also copious amounts of vitamin C, which has been linked to gout relief.
Strawberries are also 90% water, making them a great addition to a gout diet, which requires ample hydration to combat the dehydration that often triggers gout attacks.
5. Vitamin C
Increasing vitamin C intake not only protects you from colds, but also from gout. According to research, men who took vitamin C from both food and supplements were 45% less likely to develop gout.
Studies show that a higher intake of vitamin C reduces uric acid levels in the blood. Since vitamin C is present in natural sources such as fruits and vegetables, those suffering from gout may find their symptoms alleviated by eating more of them.
6. Milk Products
Milk and its products, particularly those of the low-fat variety, are known to reduce risks of gout development. Calcium and lactose, in particular, are associated with low concentrations of uric acid.
Studies also suggest that the milk proteins lactalbumin and casein have potent uricosuric properties. This means that they encourage the expulsion of uric acid from the body through the passing of urine, thereby reducing the uric acid concentration present in the blood plasma.
Water is present in most health and diet lists, and for good reason. It hydrates the body, eases dehydration, and helps flush out toxins that include excess uric acid in the bloodstream.
Water also lubricates the joints, as well as helps dilute uric acid. It helps the kidneys process uric acid better and more efficiently, leading to less uric crystal formation in the joints, which is what causes the painful inflammation.
Find out more about how you can prevent gout with a healthy diet in this video from Lee Health:
Gout can be extremely painful, even to the point of incapacitating sufferers for days and weeks at a time. Inflamed joints can balloon to twice their size, are tender to the touch, and can cause regular activities such as typing, walking, or even reaching out, extremely painful and difficult.
In the past, gout has had the alternative nickname, “the rich man’s sickness,” since only the wealthy had access to rich foods and proteins back in the day. Now, anyone–men and women from all walks of life can have gout, especially with many gout-inducing foods so easily available.
Avoid gout attacks by eating low-purine foods. But, to completely eliminate symptoms, a lifestyle change will make more of a difference than just following a gout diet.
Ever had a really bad gout attack? How did you deal with it? Share your experience with us in the comments section below.