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  • Writer's pictureValerie Smith, APRN

The Best Diet for Gout: What Foods to Eat or Avoid

If you live with gout, you know just how disruptive a gout attack can be to your life. The sudden and severe pain is excruciating and often comes on at the worst of times.

Gout is a complex form of arthritis brought on by a buildup of uric acid. Everyone produces uric acid. It is a normal, naturally-occurring waste product that occurs when your body breaks down and digests purines. Like uric acid, purines are also a normal, natural chemical compound found within the body.

But unfortunately, even substances required by the body to function can create health problems when out of balance. Too many purines or too much uric acid can lead to health issues, such as the inflammatory arthritis known as a gout.

Purines Found in Food

Although the body produces purines, purines can be found in food as well. So if you are trying to lower your purine levels as a way to control your gout, cutting back your purine intake is an excellent strategy.

Here at Paducah Rheumatology, a gout diet is one way some of our patients choose to decrease their uric acid levels and lower the risk, frequency, and severity of their gout attacks.

High-Purine Foods to Limit or Avoid Altogether

What is the best diet for gout? While many food items contain purines, some contain a higher concentration of purines than others, so let’s discuss the do’s and don’ts when following a gout diet.

Beverages to Avoid

  • Sugar-sweetened beverages - especially ones made with high fructose corn syrup

  • Alcoholic drinks - particularly beer and distilled liquors

  • Syrup/honey

  • Sodas/soft drinks

  • Caffeinated beverages - Caffeinated drinks are a controversial component of a gout diet. Some feel that consuming caffeine can reduce gout symptoms, so drinks like coffee and energy drinks are acceptable. On the other hand, coffee and energy drinks are typically filled with sugar and that sugary fructose can increase the likelihood of experiencing a gout attack.

Meats to Avoid

  • Organ meats - liver, kidney, and sweetbread

  • Red meats - beef, pork, and lamb

  • Game meats - venison, veal, goose, and turkey

  • Processed meats - bacon

  • Seafood - you do not need to limit all types of seafood, but shrimp, lobster, sardines, scallops, anchovies, mackerel, and tuna are high in purines

Sugary Foods to Avoid

  • Baked goods - sweet treats like cakes, cookies, and donuts

  • Yeast extracts/baking yeast/brewer’s yeast - food products such as frozen dinners or pre-packaged meals, canned soups, and gravy

  • Sweetened cereals

  • Candy

Other Foods to Avoid

  • Saturated fats/Hydrogenated fats - butter, palm oil, and shortening

  • Full-fat dairy products

  • Processed carbohydrates/refined carbohydrates - food items made with white flour

  • Beans - Beans are another controversial gout diet choice. Some choose to restrict their intake of high-purine lentils like dried beans and kidney beans, while others eat pinto beans that are rich in folic acid which is known to lower uric acid.

Low-Purine Foods You Can Eat and Enjoy

If you are battling constant gout attacks, a diet that consists of low-purine foods could be the solution to better health.

Meats to Enjoy

  • Poultry - chicken

  • Seafood - low-purine to moderate-purine seafood options include monkfish, Japanese eel, salmon, tilapia, halibut, and red snapper

Fruits to Enjoy

  • Citrus fruits - lemons, oranges, grapefruits, and pineapples (Note - specific citrus fruits are off limits if you take certain medications for gout.)

  • Other fruits - cherries, apples, strawberries, blueberries, pears, bananas, papaya, and avocados

Vegetables to Enjoy

  • Low-purine vegetables - broccoli, celery, carrots, and cucumbers

  • High-purine vegetables - asparagus, peas, spinach, cauliflower, and mushrooms (Although these options are technically considered high-purine, many people can eat vegetables high in purines without experiencing an increased risk of gout attacks.)

Beverages to Enjoy

  • Water - lots of water! (Add fresh lemon to your water if you prefer a splash of flavor.)

  • Skim milk

  • Tart cherry juice concentrate

  • Tea - herbal, green, lavender, and chamomile

  • Coffee (Reminder - not everyone agrees that coffee is a gout-acceptable drink.)

Other Foods to Enjoy

  • Unsaturated fats - olive oil

  • Low-fat dairy/non-fat dairy products - Greek yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese, low-fat cheese

  • Whole wheat/whole grains

  • Seeds - sunflower seeds and flax seeds

  • Nuts - walnuts, cashews, and almonds

  • Eggs

  • Herbs/spices

Grocery Shopping When Following a Gout Diet

When it comes to how the body interprets purines, any type of purine compound can increase your uric acid levels. Purines are purines, no matter whether they are naturally produced within the body or enter the body by the foods you consume.

But on the other hand, research does indicate that vegetable purines seem to impact gout differently than animal purines.

So when shopping for gout-friendly items, remember to:

  1. Limit your seafood intake

  2. Cut back on how much meat you eat

  3. Refrain from drinking alcohol

  4. Avoid high fructose corn syrup

  5. Skip the sugar-laden items and junk food

  6. Choose plant-based food options

  7. Drink loads of water (Water can help to flush out uric acid!)

And finally, the best diet for gout is like any other diet plan out there … you have to see what food choices work best for you and your body.

How your body responds to food is unique to you. A food item that is a known trigger for one gout patient may not necessarily trigger a gout attack in another patient.

If you are looking for a rheumatologist to manage your gout, Paducah Rheumatology is accepting new patients with a physician's referral.

Gout is a serious condition that can lead to life-threatening health complications when uncontrolled, and our team is ready to help you feel your best.

With a physician’s referral, give us a call at 270-408-6100 to set up an appointment.

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