Although gout is associated with genetic factors and the use of some medications which patients may not have control over, changes to diet may play a large role in the treatment of gout. A healthy gout diet can help sufferers enjoy more comfortable life.
Gout is caused by high uric acid levels in the blood (hyperuricemia). Uric acid is produced when purines, which are naturally occurring chemical compounds, are broken down in the body, or when the kidneys fail to eliminate excess uric acid. Significantly reducing foods that are rich in purines may help prevent gout attacks and reduce symptoms.
Foods that are high in purines that should be avoided include:
- Certain types of seafood such as anchovies, sardines, scallops, mussels, tuna, codfish, herring, mackerel, and haddock
- Although all meats contain reasonable amounts of purines, organ meats are also known to contain the highest levels of purines, these include liver, kidneys, brains, tongue, and tripe
- vegetables such as asparagus, cauliflower, lentils, beans, peas, mushrooms and spinach
- Beer with high alcohol percentage
- Yeast (breads etc)
It has been found that gout related flare-ups can occur within two days of eating foods that contained higher than normal amounts of purines and that the likelihood increases when the purines come from an animal product rather than a plant source.
A diet high in high-fructose corn syrup, or glucose-fructose as it’s called in Canada, has also been shown to induce the symptoms of gout as they increase uric acid levels. Foods that contain higher than normal levels of this sugar alternative include soda, fruit drinks, baked goods, ice cream, candy, and processed fast food.
Although it may seem like there are a lot of types of food to stay away from, there are several types of food and drink that are recommended for those who suffer from gout as they have been proven to significantly aid in the prevention of problems that are associated with gout.
Cherries have been proven to considerably lower levels of uric acid in the bloodstream. It is not known with certainty why this fruit in particular has such a powerful effect, however researches believe it has to do with the antioxidants, called anthocyanins, which give the fruit its pigment. Other darker colored berries such as blueberries and blackberries are also good at lowering uric acid levels.
Studies have also shown that men who drink considerable amounts of coffee each day can lower their risk of having a gout attack. Researchers found that drinking one to three cups lowered gout risk by 8% but when the individual drank four to five cups each day, the risk dropped by 40% and those who drank 6 or more cups each day lowered their risk by 60%. Although not as beneficial as caffeinated coffee, decaffeinated coffee was also shown to reduce the risk of gout. Just like cherries, researchers are not sure why this correlation exists but they speculate that it has to do with coffee’s strong antioxidant, called phenol cholorogenic acid, which reduces inflammation.
The effects of coffee and cherries on gout sufferers is not a suggestion that patients should drink copious amounts of coffee or spend their whole day eating cherries. Instead, it is an indication that there is still a long way to go to discover successful permanent solutions to living with gout. The best solution is to avoid trigger foods, and maintain a healthy weight.
Overall, maintaining a healthy weight and eating well can significantly reduce the symptoms of gout. Studies show that there is a 40% reduction in the risk of developing gout if patients lose 10 pounds. Drinking ample amounts of liquids can also flush out the patient’s system and reduce the build-up of uric acid in the bloodstream. Ideally, it’s best to drink 10 to 12 eight ounce glasses of water per day in order to counteract and remove the excess uric acid associated with gout attacks.
Patients who can maintain their weight, apply the gout diet to their daily lives, and avoid foods high in purines will find that they are much more comfortable from day to day.
page created 2 March, 2007
page last updated 17 June, 2014