Gout: Foods that Help, Foods that Hurt
Changing your diet may help you manage chronic gout and help reduce symptoms such as joint pain. Start by increasing your fluid because dehydration might trigger gout attacks. One study showed that men who drank 5 to 8 glasses of water in a 24-hour period had a 40% reduced risk of gout attacks. But avoid sugary sodas, which may increase your risk.
Watch Your Purine Intake
People with gout may benefit from eating a low-purine diet. Purines are substances found naturally in many foods. The uric acid buildup that causes gout comes from the breakdown of purines. Some foods, like organ meats, sardines, and anchovies, are high in purines.
You should avoid them if they cause your gout to flare. But you may still be able to eat foods with fewer purines, like beans, lentils, and asparagus. Talk to your health care provider about which foods you can safely eat.
Eat Plenty of Fruits
Fruits tend to have very few purines. But they do provide complex carbohydrates and other nutrients that help you maintain good health. Some fruits may help gout. Eating fruits high in vitamin C, like tangerines and oranges, may help prevent gout attacks.
Some research shows that eating cherries or drinking cherry juice can offer relief from gout. Ask your doctor if you should add cherries to your diet.
Choose the Right Carbs
If you follow a low-carb diet that is also high in protein or fat, you may get too many purines. Other high-protein diets tend to be high in purines, too. Refined carbohydrates like bread and pasta have very few purines. But you don’t want to fill up on those carbohydrates. Instead, focus on healthy carbs with high fiber such as oats, sweet potatoes, beans, and vegetables.
Increase your intake of foods rich in essential fatty acids, including cold-water fish like tuna and salmon, flaxseed and other seeds, and nuts. Fatty acids may help reduce inflammation. Use a fatty acid-rich oil, such as olive oil, for cooking and for dressing salads. And try to reduce or get rid of any trans fats in your diet.
Limit Your Alcohol
Alcohol may increase your risk of a gout attack because it is high in purines, especially if you have more than one drink a day. Beer appears to be worse than other alcoholic beverages because it contains yeast. Moderate wine drinking doesn’t appear to increase your risk, though.
Use Caffeine with Caution
Moderate coffee drinking is thought to be OK for people with gout. And in some people who drink coffee regularly, drinking four or more cups of coffee a day may even lower the risk of gout attacks. But caffeinated drinks may raise uric acid levels in some people who just drink them occasionally. Talk to your health care provider about whether your caffeine intake is causing gout attacks.
Eat Less Meat
Your doctor may recommend that you avoid meats high in purines. But you can probably eat limited amounts of chicken, pork, or lean beef — at most, one serving a day. Those types of meat have fewer purines than organ meats like liver and sweetbreads. Other meat products like gravies and meat-based broths are also high in purines.
Enjoy Low-fat Dairy
Dairy products were once off-limits to people with gout because they are made from animal proteins. But dairy products actually have low purines, and dairy purines do not seem to cause gout anyway. In fact, drinking low-fat milk and eating low-fat dairy may reduce your risk of gout by more than 40%. During a gout attack, low-fat dairy products may help you get rid of extra uric acid through your urine.
You Can’t Eliminate Purines
It’s impossible to avoid all purines. But there are a few foods that are high in purines that do not trigger gout. One study found that peas, beans, mushrooms, cauliflower, spinach, and chicken, formerly considered foods to avoid, may not be associated with gout attacks.
Find a Diet That Works for You
Being overweight increases your risk of gout. So eating a balanced diet and losing excess weight may help you reduce your symptoms. Talk with your doctor about making diet changes. You may find that you can eat some foods without having a gout attack. Other foods may cause your body to react or may make your gout worse.
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