Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis that can cause pain, tenderness, redness, and inflammation. Dietary changes can help manage symptoms and prevent flares.
People with gout have high levels of uric acid in their blood. Managing these levels may help relieve or prevent symptoms. Some foods can help lower uric acid levels, while others can increase it.
Read on to find out more about the link between diet and gout and to get some tips that may help a person manage gout, including which foods to eat and avoid.
There is evidence that consuming certain types of food may trigger an episode of gout.
In 2004, researchers found that some purines, which are present in animal and plant foods, may worsen the symptoms of gout because the body converts them into uric acid.
The study indicates that consuming animal based foods that are high in purines might increase the risk of developing gout.
However, eating plant based foods that contain purines does not appear to have the same effect. The researchers add that consuming dairy products may reduce the chances of developing gout.
The following foods contain purines. People with gout should significantly limit or avoid them.
- red meat and organ meat, such as liver or kidneys, which are high in saturated fat
- seafood, such as lobster, shrimp, sardines, anchovies, tuna, trout, mackerel, and haddock
- sugary drinks and foods that are high in fructose
- processed foods and refined carbohydrates
- alcohol, especially beer and hard liquor
Some people fast to relieve gout. However, the Arthritis Foundation note that fasting may trigger symptoms of gout if a fasting person becomes dehydrated. People with gout should take special precautions when fasting to maintain they drink enough fluids.
A 2014 study compared people who fasted and those who did not fast during Ramadan, which restricts food and fluid during daylight hours. The study did not find that people who fasted experienced more episodes of gout or higher uric acid levels than non-fasting participants.
Gout is a chronic, or long term, condition. Developing lifelong healthful eating habits can help a person manage their symptoms.
A healthful diet for people with gout should include all the food groups.
Foods that can help reduce uric acid levels include:
- low fat dairy products, such as yogurt and cottage cheese
- plant oils, such as olive oil or avocado
- pulses, including beans, peas, and lentils
- all vegetables, including mushrooms, asparagus, and spinach
- fruits, especially those with high fiber and low sugar content, such as berries and citrus
- whole grains
- lean meat, such as chicken
Overall, a plant based diet is more likely to be beneficial than a high fat diet with a focus on meat to help stabilize uric acid levels.
It can also help boost heart health due to the increased consumption of fiber, fruit, vegetable, and monounsaturated fats. This is important, as studies have shown that people with gout may also have a higher risk of developing heart problems.
A doctor may also recommend vitamin C supplements of 500–1,000 milligrams (mg) a day.
Vitamin C supplements are available for purchase online. However, people should not take supplements unless their doctor advises them to do so.
People should speak to their doctor for advice about dietary changes. However, here is an example of a healthful menu that may be suitable for a person with gout.
Loaded oatmeal with coffee and a glass of water.
For loaded oatmeal, combine:
- oats made with low fat milk
- berries and cherries
- almonds and walnuts
- Loaded salad with leafy greens, vegetables, 1–2 boiled eggs, fruit, avocado, flaxseed, and a dressing of olive oil and vinegar
- 1 cup of black bean soup
- 1–2 glasses of water
- Half a cup of skinless chicken breast (3 ounces)
- Half a cup of brown rice, barley, or other whole grain
- 1–2 cups of broccoli
- Half a cup of kefir
- 1–2 glasses of water
Gout is a type of arthritis that occurs when there is too much uric acid in the blood. High uric acid levels can cause monosodium urate crystals to form in the joints.
Severe pain, tenderness, redness, and inflammation can result.
Gout most commonly affects men, but it can also affect women after the age of 60 years.
Gout flares can begin suddenly, often at night. They can last from 1–10 days. Symptoms will be most painful during the first 24 hours.
Gout often affects the big toe, and even the weight of a blanket can cause severe pain. Without treatment, gout can spread to other joints in the body, in both the upper and lower limbs.
- pain relief medications, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), colchicine, and steroids
- drugs to reduce uric acid levels, such as allopurinol
The Arthritis Foundation emphasize how important it is for people with gout to manage their weight.
- decrease uric acid levels in the body
- reduce pressure on painful joints
- lower the risk of heart disease
- build up strength and flexibility
- To achieve this, the person should ask their doctor about:
- a suitable diet to help them manage their weight
- an exercise plan
Anyone who smokes should also ask their doctor to help them with a plan to quit.
The Mediterranean diet contains plants, grains, and healthful fats. It may help people manage their weight while eating healthfully.
Gout is a painful condition that can worsen with certain foods.
Combining medical treatment with a healthful, low purine diet can help manage symptoms by reducing the levels of uric acid in the body.
The doctor tells me I have high levels of uric acid. Can I avoid gout if I start eating healthfully now?
Yes, you can reduce your uric acid levels and avoid or minimize gout symptoms by eating a healthful, low purine diet. Making other healthful lifestyle choices, such as managing or losing weight through diet and exercise, avoiding sweetened beverages, and reducing alcohol intake, is also important.
Natalie Butler, RD, LD Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.