What foods to avoid for gout

Gout is a type of arthritis. Your diet can have a direct impact on gout symptoms and severity.

Foods high in purines tend to cause more flare-ups of symptoms. Studies have shown that eating purines increases the risk of gout recurrence by nearly five times.

This article tells you what purines are, what they do, which foods can make your gout worse, and what you should eat.

What is gout?

Gout is an inflammatory arthritis. It may affect one joint (usually the big toe) or multiple joints at a time. It is caused by too much uric acid in the blood. This causes uric acid crystals to form in joints, body fluids and tissues. Crystals can cause severe pain, swelling, and redness.

What are purines?

Purines are compounds that occur naturally in food and in the body.

Purines in food are called exogenous purines. (exogenous Means “from the outside”. ) In your body, they are called endogenous purines. (under these circumstances, endogenous Means “from within”. )

Exogenous purines are broken down by your digestive system. Whenever your body processes any type of purine, it produces uric acid as a byproduct.

Your body then reabsorbs most of the uric acid. The rest is excreted through your urine and feces.

Sometimes purine levels are so high that your body can’t handle all of them. Uric acid then builds up in the blood.This situation is called Hyperuricemia.

Hyperuricemia is not always symptomatic. But it can lead to kidney stones or gout.

If you have hyperuricemia or gout, ask your healthcare provider if high-purine foods should be avoided or limited. These include:

  • some sugary foods
  • red meat
  • offal meat
  • seafood
  • yeast
  • alcoholic beverages

what to eat when you have gout

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Gout is an arthritis caused by uric acid crystals. High purine levels can lead to high uric acid levels in the blood. This results in crystals. A low-purine diet can help you avoid gout attacks.

sugar and fruit

Sugars, including fructose, appear to increase uric acid levels in the blood.

Fructose is a natural form of sugar found in certain foods. It is added to many products as high fructose corn syrup. Avoiding or limiting foods high in fructose may help reduce gout symptoms.

Some fruits are naturally rich in fructose. However, the relationship between fruit and gout is unclear.

If you have gout, you don’t have to avoid all fruits. But it might help:

  • avoid or limit some juices
  • Eat one fruit at a time
  • Notice how it affects your gout symptoms

What is a serving of fruit?

  • a small apple or orange
  • 1 small banana (less than 6 inches long)
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) juice
  • 1 ounce (palm) dried fruit
  • 1/2 cup fresh fruit

Gout triggers can be different for everyone. So pay attention to the fruits (and how much) you eat, and whether they trigger a gout attack.

A 2020 review looked at research on sugar-sweetened beverages. It found that these drinks were significantly associated with an increased risk of gout and hyperuricemia.

Avoiding these beverages may help, including:

  • soda
  • energy drink
  • energy drink

soda and sugary drinks

Sodas and sugar-sweetened beverages are considered zero-calorie foods. They contain no beneficial nutrients, but add a lot of calories to your diet.

For example, a 12-ounce can of cola has about 150 calories and 40 grams (about 9.5 teaspoons) of added sugar.

Processed Foods and Refined Carbohydrates

Modern Western diets are often rich in processed foods and refined carbohydrates. This is associated with an increased risk of:

  • type 2 diabetes
  • heart disease
  • weight gain

A 2017 study looked at gout in people who followed a Western diet or the Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. Researchers found that the DASH diet was associated with a lower risk of gout. A Western diet is associated with a higher risk of gout.

To help prevent gout symptoms, it’s best to limit foods and beverages that are highly processed and high in refined carbohydrates. These include:

  • candy
  • baked goods
  • chips
  • biscuit
  • soda
  • ice cream
  • White bread
  • some frozen foods

Cutting back on these foods doesn’t just help with gout. It may also improve your overall health.

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Sugar (including fructose), refined carbohydrates, and processed foods can all contribute to gout symptoms. Limiting these foods may improve your gout and overall health.

Red and organ meats

Red meat and organ meats are high in purines. So they can increase your risk of gout and gout attacks.

Keep your intake of these meats low. They include:

  • beef
  • bison
  • Venison and other game
  • liver
  • Heart
  • sweet bread
  • Tongue
  • kidney

Chicken has moderate purine levels. So eat in moderation. Also, limit meat soups, gravies, and processed meats such as salami and pepperoni.

get enough protein

Protein is important for the body. While you may need to limit protein from certain animal sources, you can still get it from other sources. Good choices for protein include:

  • low-fat dairy
  • Egg
  • Nuts and Nut Butters
  • beans
  • Tofu
  • some fish and seafood (see below)

rich man disease

Gout has been recognized since the Middle Ages. It was originally called “rich man’s disease”. That’s because the lower classes can’t afford gout-related food and drink.

fish and seafood

Certain types of seafood are high in purines. These should be avoided in a gout-friendly diet. They include:

  • Anchovy
  • cod
  • haddock
  • halibut
  • Herring
  • jack mackerel
  • Mussels
  • sardine
  • scallop
  • Trout
  • tuna

Other seafood has moderate purine content. Do not eat more than about 6 ounces per day:

  • lobster
  • Crab
  • shrimp
  • oysters
  • Clam
  • salmon

What about fatty fish?

Fatty fish, such as tuna and salmon, are generally considered healthy. This is mainly due to their heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

But they are also high in purines. So should you eat or not?

A 2019 study showed that fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids were associated with a lower risk of recurrent gout attacks. Omega-3 supplements are not.

More research is needed to clarify what’s going on here. In the meantime, it’s a good idea to keep track of what you eat and see which foods may be triggering your symptoms.

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Red meat, offal, and some fish and seafood are high in purines. You should avoid them. Limit those who are moderate. Look for non-meat protein sources to make sure you’re getting enough protein.

Alcohol

Drinking alcohol has long been linked to gout. It is recommended that you avoid drinking alcohol. The most severe symptoms of gout symptoms seem to be:

  • beer
  • hard liquor
  • Other grain alcohols

It is well known that regular alcohol consumption can lead to chronic hyperuricemia. This increases the risk of gout and gout attacks.

Wine is low in purines. It should be consumed in moderation. Studies have shown that drinking moderate amounts of wine after meals does not cause hyperuricemia.

Even so, limit wine to one or two 5-ounce drinks a day.

yeast

Certain yeasts and yeast extracts are high in purines. You should avoid foods and supplements that contain them.

Yeast extract is found in certain foods, such as:

  • some soy sauce
  • Canned Soups and Stews
  • frozen dinner
  • savory snack

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Beer, hard alcohol, and yeast can all contribute to the development of gout and gout attacks. A small amount of alcohol is considered OK. Watch out for yeast and yeast extracts in packaged foods.

High-purine vegetables are okay

Studies have shown that vegetables high in purines are no problem for gout sufferers. A diet rich in vegetables—regardless of purine levels—may actually lower your risk of gout.

High-purine vegetables include:

  • Peas, Beans and Lentils
  • spinach
  • mushroom
  • cauliflower

So while you may need to limit your intake of fruit, meat, and alcohol, you can eat all the vegetables you want.

weight management

A gout-friendly diet may have other health benefits. It can help you achieve and maintain a lower weight.

Studies have shown that a higher body mass index (BMI) is a risk factor for gout. People who are overweight or obese are at significantly higher risk.

In addition, higher rates of gout and prominent symptoms are associated with the following factors:

  • diabetes
  • high cholesterol
  • or both

A healthy diet can prevent or delay these conditions.

Maintaining a healthy weight may also reduce joint burden. This can slow the progression of joint damage.

Be sure to factor your healthcare team into your dietary decisions, though. No diet is right for everyone. You may need to customize based on your overall health, allergies, medications and other factors.

generalize

Some foods contain natural chemicals called purines. Purines raise uric acid levels, which can lead to gout.

Anti-gout diets include:

  • Less processed foods, refined carbohydrates and sugar
  • small portion of fruit
  • No red meat or organ meats
  • No fish or seafood high in purines
  • Eat less chicken and moderately purine fish and seafood
  • No beer or spirits
  • Moderate amount of wine
  • less yeast
  • lots of vegetables and whole grains

Eating this way may help relieve gout symptoms and reduce weight.

VigorTip words

A good diet for gout can be difficult. You may have to give up what you love. Healthier foods are also harder to come by.

Work with your medical team to start with small changes. Remember, gout triggers can be individual. So if cutting something out of your diet doesn’t seem to help, keep eating.

Figuring out your personal dietary triggers can take time and effort. But in the long run, if you can stop the sudden, severe pain that comes with gout, it’s worth it in the long run.