Lifestyle: Do’s & Do Not’s

Food pyramidWhat Can I do? Dos and Do Not’s of Lifestyle Care 

Gout can be a very painful and incapacitating condition to live with. A lifestyle change is an essential step towards recovery. Avoiding foods and beverages that increase uric acid levels, or prevent uric acid from leaving the body, can take you a long way. Try increasing water consumption which can help flush out uric acid.

Since there isn’t a direct relationship between protein content and gout flares (i.e. you are not necessarily more likely to have a flare-up if you eat more protein) it can be difficult to modify your diet to prevent flare-ups. Additionally, knowing the purine content of food won’t necessarily translate to higher uric acid levels because factors such as cooking preparation and absorption into the body will alter the breakdown of purines into uric acid. To add to this, some individuals can have high uric acid levels without experiencing symptoms of gout. Fortunately, researchers have identified some types of foods that tend to promote symptoms and should therefore be avoided.

Do:

  • Increase consumption of whole grains, vegetable-based proteins (e.g. lentils, tofu and peanut butter)
  • Increase consumption of low-fat dairy products (e.g. unprocessed cheese and yogurt).
  • Increase consumption of water
  • Eat an adequate amount of fruits and vegetables, especially those containing vitamin C (e.g. oranges, lemons, guava, kiwi, strawberries, red peppers, spinach) since vitamin C helps lower uric acid
  • Eat cherries. Cherries have been found to lower uric acid.
  • Continue to be physically active to improve quality of life and improve overall health risk. If necessary, avoid weight-bearing exercises such as running and jumping that may aggravate joints.
  • Gradually lose weight. Since overweight and obesity are risk factors for gout, losing weight is advised.

Do Not:

  • Drink excessive amounts of alcohol or fructose-rich drinks (e.g. sodas, juices)
  • Eat large quantities of red meats and seafood. Rather, take fish oil supplements containing omega 3 to improve cardiovascular risk.
  • Lose weight rapidly. Rapid weight loss can promote flare-ups.
  • Drink excessive amounts of soft drinks and sweetened juices.