Gout is a painful form of arthritis characterized by red, swollen joints. Attacks of gout are brought on by the buildup of uric acid in the body. Normally, uric acid is dissolved within the bloodstream and passed out of the body through the kidneys. However, when uric acid crystallizes rather than dissolves, the crystals tend to congregate at the joints in large masses, forming the painful lumps we associate with gout. Most uric acid compounds in the body come from purines in the foods we eat. Diets high in purine-rich foods can increase the odds of developing gout.
People with gout should avoid or entirely eliminate foods that are high in purines, as purine compounds form uric acid when they are broken down in the digestive process. Foods that are purine rich include anchovies, game meat, gravy, scallops, herring, mackerel, caviar, red meats, shellfish, beans, lentils and peas. Additionally, both baker's and brewer's yeast can lead to flare-ups in gout; therefore, yeast extracts such as Vegemite and alcoholic beverages that contain yeast, such as beer and wine, should be eliminated from the daily diet.
Foods that contain a moderate amount of purine compounds can be eaten, but not on a regular basis. Consumption of midrange purines should be limited to no more than three servings total in a week. These foods include: poultry, pork, meat-based soups, whole-grain cereals, oatmeal, fish, eel, asparagus, cauliflower, mushrooms and spinach. In addition to this, alcoholic beverages made from hard liquor should be limited to one drink, three times per week, at most.
Those who suffer from gout have no dietary restrictions placed on the consumption of low-purine foods, such as nuts, peanut butter, vegetables and fruits. Unlike most people, those with gout are actually encouraged to eat breads and cereals made from refined white flour, butter, eggs, cheese, chocolate and cream-style soups (as long as they are not meat based). There are also no current limitations placed on the consumption of coffee, tea, soda, fruit juice or sugar.
While those diagnosed with gout are encouraged to eat all sorts of fresh fruits, some seem to be more beneficial than others. For example, cherries seem to be particularly useful to gout sufferers. According to a recent study done by the Western Human Nutrition Research Center in Davis, California, consuming 6 to 8 cherries each day reduces the amount of uric acid in the blood, while consuming 20 to 45 cherries can alleviate the development of gout symptoms. Other foods that seem to be particularly beneficial to gout sufferers include blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, oranges, red cabbage, bell peppers, olive oil, tofu and low-fat dairy products such as skim milk, mozzarella cheese, cottage cheese and yogurt. Gout sufferers should try to incorporate as many of these foods as possible into their daily diet.