Gout is caused by uric acid in your body that builds up over time to form crystals in your joints, causing pain and inflammation. Gout is most prevalent in men over 30 years but can occur in either gender at any age. A gout attack brings on severe joint pain, usually starting in your big toe. Your joints get red, hot and swollen, and the pain intensifies after one to two days. Recurrent gout attacks are common, so speak with your physician about medication, supplements and dietary changes to help you manage this condition.
If you have gout, follow a low-purine diet. Your body makes purines, and they also are in certain foods. When you digest purines, your body converts them to uric acid, which is normally filtered by your kidneys and disposed of in your urine. With gout, the uric acid accumulates leading to a gout attack. Steer clear of high-purine foods to prevent flare-ups. Limit or avoid organ meats, wild game meats, anchovies, sardines, scallops, mussels, tuna, herring, codfish, haddock, gravy and yeast.
There are healthy purine-containing foods you can eat in moderation. Limit meat, poultry and shellfish to 4 to 6 ounces daily. Stick to 1 cup of beans, peas or lentils. Eat plenty of vegetables, but only 1/2 cup a day of asparagus, cauliflower, spinach, mushrooms and green peas. Your oatmeal intake should be limited to 2/3 cup uncooked daily and wheat germ and bran to 1/4 cup daily. Everyone’s gout flare-ups are triggered by different foods, according to Familydoctor.org. Following a low-purine diet may help, but over time you will learn what foods you need to avoid and what foods you can enjoy.
Certain foods can reduce the inflammation associated with gout. Anthocyanins are plant compounds found in red and purple fruits, such as raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and cherries. Tart cherries contain the highest amount. A study published in 2012 in Arthritis and Rheumatism showed a significant reduction in gout symptoms when participants ate cherries. Focus on low-purine foods, such as low-fat milk, dairy products, eggs, nuts and whole-grain breads, pasta and rice. Consume plenty of fruits and vegetables other than those high in purines, and cook with plant oils, such as olive, canola and sunflower.
The Arthritis Foundation also recommends a vitamin C supplement. A study published in 2010 in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed vitamin C supplements of 500 milligrams per day may help prevent gout by helping you excrete uric acid and reducing gout-related inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids may also help reduce inflammation. Fish oil supplements are purified and contain undetectable amounts of purines, so they should not increase your risk of gout.
Drink plenty of fluids on a daily basis to help your body excrete extra uric acid. Drugs.com recommends 8 to 16 cups of liquid a day, with at least half being water. Avoid sugary beverages and drink fruit juice, wine and coffee in moderation. Steer clear of beer. Beer’s purine content may trigger a gout attack. FamilyDoctor.org also suggests losing weight, which can reduce gout flare-ups and the amount of stress on your joints. Eat healthy and exercise daily to reach a healthy weight. If you lose weight too rapidly, you can raise the uric acid in your body.
- NYU Langone Medical Center: Gout
- Drugs.com: Low-Purine Diet
- FamilyDoctor.org: Low-Purine Diet
- Arthritis Foundation: How Cherries Help Fight Arthritis
- Arthritis and Rheumatism: Cherry Consumption and Decreased Risk of Recurrent Gout Attacks
- Arthritis Foundation: Healthy Foods for Gout
- Archives of Internal Medicine: Vitamin C Intake and the Risk of Gout in Men
- Life Extension: Gout and Hyperuricemia
- Arthritis Foundation: Fight Gout With Your Gut