Gout is a condition caused by uric acid crystals forming in the blood and accumulating around a joint, particularly the big toe joint. It can happen to anyone, but is more common in men aged 40 to 50. The body breaks down purines, a type of compound found in some foods, into uric acid. Therefore, eating a diet that is low in purines could help to reduce the risk of gout attacks.
Foods to avoid if you have gout
The following foods are very high in purines, so it's a good idea to avoid them if you have recurring attacks of gout:
- Organ meats (liver, kidney, etc.)
- Anchovies, sardines, mackerel, herring and scallops
These foods are moderately high in purines, but most people can eat them occasionally as part of a gout-friendly diet:
- Seafood (other than the fish types listed above)
- Meat, especially pork, bacon and lamb
- Wheat bran and wheat germ
Many types of vegetables are high in purines, including asparagus, spinach, peas, mushrooms and cauliflower. However, research shows that these vegetables don't raise the risk of gout, so there's no need to cut them out of your diet or limit them in any way.
Alcohol can increase the risk of gout because it causes dehydration. Beer is particularly harmful, as it contains high levels of purines as well as alcohol. Whether you decide to drink or abstain from alcohol, drink plenty of water to keep yourself well hydrated.
Foods to eat if you have gout
The following foods could help to reduce the risk of a gout attack.
- Vitamin C. Because vitamin C lowers uric acid levels, some gout sufferers find that taking a 500-mg vitamin C supplement helps to reduce attacks. Speak to your doctor to find out whether these supplements may be beneficial for you.
- Coffee. Moderate coffee consumption can be useful in preventing gout attacks. However, the caffeine in coffee can be harmful for other medical conditions, so check with your doctor before you start drinking espresso every morning.
- Cherries. Eating cherries could lower uric acid levels. In fact, cherries are a traditional gout remedy.
- Low-fat dairy. Both low-fat milk and yogurt could reduce the risk of gout attacks.
Control gout attacks
A good diet for gout sufferers contains plenty of fruit and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, small amounts of low-purine meat, and little or no alcohol. As you're cutting down on your meat intake, you may want to eat more eggs, nuts, beans and lentils for protein.
Keep a diary that details what you eat and your symptoms, as this can help you work out how strict you need to be with your gout diet. Share this diary with your doctor so he or she can give you advice about the diet changes you need to make to minimize your gout attacks.
About the Author:
Hannah Whiteoak is a professional freelance writer from the United Kingdom. She's been writing full-time for roughly five years and specializes in science and health topics.