Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis. Dietary choices may help manage symptoms and prevent flares. This can include avoiding animal foods high in purines, choosing plant-based foods, and more.
Gout is an inflammatory condition that occurs when high levels of uric acid build up in the blood and form crystals in or around joints. This leads to inflammation, pain, and joint damage in severe cases. Gout flares can begin suddenly, often at night, and may last for 1–2 weeks. Symptoms tend to be most painful during the first 24 hours.
A combination of medications and diet changes
This article covers which foods can be beneficial to prioritize and which are beneficial to limit when living with gout.
A person’s diet plays an important role in the development of gout.
Purines are natural compounds produced by the body in small amounts and are present in many foods. The body breaks down purines into uric acid, meaning consuming large quantities of purine-rich foods
Developing lifelong healthy eating habits can help a person manage their symptoms.
The following low-purine foods can all help form a healthy, balanced diet:
- low fat dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese
- pulses, including beans, peas, and lentils
- vegetables, including mushrooms, asparagus, spinach, tomatoes, and broccoli
- fruits, especially those with high fiber and low sugar content, such as cherries, citrus fruits, and berries
- whole grains, including quinoa, barley, buckwheat, oats, and brown rice
- nuts, such as almonds, cashews, pistachios, walnuts, and macadamia nuts
- soy products, including tofu, tempeh, and edamame
- lean proteins, such as tofu, tempeh, and turkey
However, when limiting purine-rich foods,
Overall, a plant-based diet is
It can also help boost heart health due to increased fiber consumption, fruits, vegetables, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. This is important, as
There is evidence to suggest that consuming certain types of foods may trigger an episode of gout. The sections below look at some of these foods in more detail.
Purine-rich animal proteins
Purines may worsen gout symptoms because the body converts them into uric acid. Furthermore, some research suggests that consuming animal-based foods high in purines
The following foods
- red meats, such as beef and lamb
- organ meats, including liver and kidneys
- seafood, such as mussels, scallops, anchovies, sardines, trout, and tuna
People with gout should try to limit or avoid these foods.
Consuming alcohol, especially beer and spirits
Learn more about the link between beer and gout here.
When people eat foods high in fructose, it can lead to a depletion of adenosine triphosphate. This, in turn, can lead to the overproduction of uric acid.
For this reason, people with gout should limit foods that naturally contain a lot of fructose. This does not mean excluding fruit or honey from a person’s diet but eating it in small amounts in moderation.
However, a person should avoid consuming sugary soda drinks and processed foods that contain high fructose corn syrup as an additive.
Research suggests that people with gout may wish to
- sugary breakfast cereals
- fruits such as pineapple, bananas, watermelon, grapes, and mango, as well as fruit juices
- starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, corn, winter squash, and parsnips
- most white bread
- snacks such as cookies, donuts, chips, pretzels, cakes, and pop tarts
Some people choose to fast occasionally. This may be for religious reasons or for health reasons, such as to lose weight.
Although weight loss can be beneficial for reducing gout symptoms, the Arthritis Foundation notes that fasting may trigger gout symptoms if a fasting person becomes dehydrated.
People with gout should take special precautions when fasting to ensure they drink enough fluids.
The following is an example of a healthy menu that may suit a person with gout. However, people should speak with a doctor or registered dietitian for advice about dietary changes.
- loaded oatmeal with coffee and a glass of water
For loaded oatmeal, combine:
- oats made with milk
- berries and cherries
- almonds and walnuts
- a loaded salad with leafy greens, vegetables, one to two boiled eggs, fruit, avocado, flaxseed, and a dressing of olive oil and vinegar
- 1 cup of black bean soup
- one to two glasses of water
- half a cup of skinless chicken breast
- half a cup of brown rice, barley, or another type of whole-grain
- 1–2 cups of broccoli
- half a cup of kefir
- one to two glasses of water
Although medications may still be necessary to treat gout, making dietary changes using the tips above can be an effective way to manage the symptoms and prevent future flares.
In particular, consuming a balanced, low purine diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and dairy products may be especially beneficial.
Ideally, a healthy meal plan for gout should:
- limit foods high in purines
- include a variety of foods that can control uric acid levels
- help a person reach or maintain a moderate weight
A person can also consult a doctor or registered dietitian for additional guidance in creating a meal plan tailored to their needs.
The Arthritis Foundation emphasizes how important it is for people with gout to manage their weight.
Obesity is a risk factor for developing gout. If a person with gout has excess weight, losing a few pounds can help them:
- decrease uric acid levels in the body
- reduce pressure on painful joints
- lower the risk of heart disease
- build strength and flexibility
To achieve this, the person should ask a doctor or registered dietitian about a suitable diet to help them manage their weight and an exercise plan.
Anyone who smokes should also ask a doctor to help them with a plan to quit.
Gout is a painful condition that can worsen with certain foods.
Combining medical treatment with a healthy, low-purine diet can help manage the symptoms by reducing uric acid levels.