Gout--a painful form of arthritis causing swollen, hot and stiff joints--occurs when uric acid builds up in the blood, according to the National Institute of Health. While initial gout episodes may only last a few days, subsequent bouts may occur more frequently and last for longer periods of time. Left untreated, gout can cause permanent liver and joint damage. Fortunately, avoiding foods with high purine levels may help alleviate gout symptoms in some sufferers.
Low-Fat Dairy Products and Lean Protein
Kara Ryan, a nutritional education specialist for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, suggests that protein-rich foods may worsen gout for many sufferers due to high levels of purines. Purines are chemicals that break down in the body to form uric acid. She suggests that anyone prone to developing gout seek protein from low-fat dairy products, tofu, eggs and chicken instead of red meats and seafood.
Research at the Mayo Clinic goes on to substantiate Ryan's claim. According to its Gout Diet, skim and low-fat milk products (including yogurt) may help reduce the risk of gout. Because all animal proteins contain purines, the Mayo Clinic recommends that sufferers limit their intake to four to six ounces daily.
Fruits and Vegetables
According to the USDA, cherries may help prevent gout or alleviate symptoms during gout episodes thanks to their inflammation-reducing chemicals and low purine levels.
Most fruits and vegetables contain very low purine levels, if any at all. According to IndiaDiets.com, gout sufferers may consume fruits liberally. ScribD.com suggests that while many gout sufferers may tolerate the majority of vegetables, they should limit their intake of cauliflower, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, spinach, asparagus, avocado and mushrooms.
Breads and Cereal
Most breads and cereals, including low-fiber varieties, are safe for gout sufferers to eat, according to IndiaDiets.com. The Mayo Clinic suggests that sufferers of and those prone to gout choose complex carbohydrates such as whole grain breads, cereals and oatmeal over refined carbohydrates like white flour, cakes and sugary cereals.
Nuts and Seeds
Unsalted sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, pistachios and many other nuts and seeds may help provide protein for gout sufferers without worsening their condition. However, ScribD.com recommends avoiding peanuts, cashews and salted nuts.
What to Limit or Avoid
Alcohol interferes with the body's ability to eliminate uric acid. The Mayo Clinic reports a direct correlation between beer drinking and gout attacks. It goes on to recommend that sufferers of gout avoid alcohol during episodes, but encourages that two 5-oz. glasses of wine daily is not likely to contribute to gout flareups.
The Mayo Clinic also recommends that gout sufferers avoid sugar due to the link between sugar and obesity, a contributing factor of gout. It also suggests that there is some speculation that sugar may inhibit the body's ability to eliminate uric acid, further exasperating gout in those most prone to the condition.
Fish Oil to Alleviate Symptoms
Although most seafood contains high purine levels, Dr. James McKoy, of Arthritis Today, suggests that the anti-inflammatory benefits found in fish oil may help combat gout symptoms without raising uric acid in the body. He suggests that everyone get at least 2,000 milligrams daily of EPA and DHA Omega-3 fish oil.