Gout is the most common painful form of inflammatory arthritis. It occurs when there is high uric acid in the blood. This leads to the accumulation and formation of crystals in and around a joint. The crystals formed result in episodes of swelling and pain, known as gout attacks or flares.
Uric acid is produced when your body breaks down purines. The uric acid then dissolves in the blood before it is excreted in the urine. High uric acid levels occur when your body excretes too little uric acid or produces too much of it.
A gout diet, which is plant-based, requires you to eat moderate portions of healthy foods and drink plenty of water. These foods include whole grains, vegetables, fruits, coffee, legumes, nuts, and seeds. We also recommend you avoid alcohol, organ meats, sugar-sweetened drinks, and seafood.
Consuming a gout-friendly diet is important if you have gout. It helps you manage blood uric acid levels. This helps improve your gout symptoms and prevent future gout attacks.
Ensuring you are at a healthy weight is also critical. Being obese or overweight is shown to increase your risk of developing gout. We recommend engaging in regular physical exercise to maintain a healthy weight.
WHAT TO EAT:
Uric acid is produced from purines. A low purine diet may lower blood uric acid levels. Limiting purine-rich foods can help reduce gout attacks.
Below are some of the best foods for gout that you can eat:
Whole grains like whole grain pasta and bread are healthier than refined ones. Although they contain moderate purines, they are packed with fiber and vitamins. Fiber helps prevent rapid blood sugar rise in the body. It decreases uric acid levels.
Fruits, such as dates, are among the best foods to eat if you have gout. You can consume dates while they are still fresh or dried. These fruits are a great natural sweetener and can be a healthier alternative to artificial sugars.
Dates are nutrient-rich and low in purines. They are high in fiber and contain iron, copper, vitamin B6, proteins, potassium, and magnesium. These nutrients help lower uric acid and fight inflammation to reduce gout attacks.
Although dates are high in fruit sugar (fructose), they have a low glycemic index. As such, they are safe to include in the gout diet. They help prevent high blood sugar levels. Note that high blood sugar is shown to increase blood uric acid levels leading to gout attacks.
Vitamin C-rich fruits are also great for gout patients. Fruits like cherries, oranges, peaches, and kiwi are all high in vitamin C. Studies suggest that vitamin C can lower uric acid levels in the blood, thereby reducing gout attacks. Vitamin C also helps in reducing your risk of developing gout.
However, certain fruits may contain high fructose content, which is shown to increase uric acid levels. Fruits like grapes, pears, apples, dried apricots, and raisins are high in fructose. But, should you avoid them? The health benefits of these fruits far outweigh the negatives. They contain fiber which helps control blood sugar levels in the body. We recommend eating moderate portions of these fruits.
Vegetables are among the best food options for gout patients. Yet, try to limit vegetables high in purine (spinach, asparagus, and mushroom) to one serving per day. Cabbage, red bell pepper, squash, beetroot, and kalian are safe to eat for gout patients.
Legumes should not be missed in your gout diet list. This plant-based protein is a good alternative to animal proteins which are high in purines. It helps lower uric acid in the blood, preventing gout attacks. Legumes like soybean and their products (soy milk and tofu) help manage and decrease your risk of developing gout.
Beverages like coffee and caffeinated drinks can help you manage gout symptoms. Studies show that drinking caffeinated coffee helps reduce the risk of getting gout. Coffee contains antioxidants and certain chemicals (chlorogenic) that help lower insulin levels and decrease uric acid levels.
When drinking coffee, avoid adding sugar or high-fat dairy coffee creamers.
Plenty of Fluids
Staying hydrated is important not just for managing gout but for your overall health. Adequate fluid intake helps your body remove excess uric acid and flashes it out in the urine. Aim for at least two liters of water daily. You may also consume water-rich foods like cucumber, watercress, and watermelon.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are a great source of proteins in gout meals. They are low in purine (less than 50 mg) and help lower uric acid levels. They also contain minerals, vitamins, and healthy fats which reduce the risk of gout attacks. Examples of nuts/seeds to include in your gout diet menu are pecans, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, Brazilian nuts, and cashew nuts. Note that nuts and seeds are prone to spoiling due to poly- and mono-unsaturated fats. Ensure you buy them while they are fresh, raw, and whole.
Studies suggest low-fat dairy like skimmed milk and low-fat yogurt could reduce blood uric acid levels by excreting it in urine. Enriched milk is also shown to reduce gout attacks and inflammation.
WHAT TO AVOID:
Generally, foods to avoid include those high in fructose and purine content. Here are examples of such foods:
Alcohol has high purine content. Beer and spirits have the highest and lowest purines. Studies show that drinking alcohol increases your blood uric acid levels. Alcohol consumption is also a major risk factor for developing gout.
Organ meats like kidneys, liver, brains, tongue, and tripe are high purine foods that can increase your blood uric acid levels. It is recommended to avoid them. Instead of organ meats, you can eat moderate portions of lean meats as an alternative.
Some seafood like tuna, sardines, shellfish, and anchovies are high in purines. Purines increase your blood uric acid levels leading to gout attacks. We recommend reducing your fish intake to two to three times a week.
There is a strong link between gout and sugar-sweetened drinks. Sugar-sweetened beverages contain a high amount of fructose. It increases blood uric acid levels leading to gout attacks. According to research, drinking two servings of a sugar-sweetened drink in a day increases your risk of developing gout by 85%.
Certain medications can increase uric acid levels in the blood. They include diuretics like thiazide diuretics, drugs used to treat tuberculosis (pyrazinamide), immunosuppressants (cyclosporin), aspirin, nicotinic acid, and cytotoxic chemotherapy.
Gout is the most common painful form of inflammatory arthritis and occurs when high uric acid levels are in the blood. The condition can be managed by eating a gout-friendly diet. This includes drinking plenty of water and eating foods that are low in purine and fructose. It includes whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, caffeinated beverages, nuts, and seeds. We also recommend that people with gout maintain a healthy weight and avoid alcohol, organ meats, some seafood, and sugar-sweetened beverages.