Anyone who has has a gout attack knows how the pain can wake you from your sleep and stop you in your tracks. Fortunately, medication and dietary changes can help you get relief.
Uric acid is a waste product produced when your body breaks down chemicals called purines, which are found in a variety of foods and beverages. In people with gout, uric acid builds up and forms sharp crystals that settle in the joints, causing painful recurring flare-ups. Adopting a diet low in purines can help tame gout flares.
Here at Inspire Health Clinics in South Jordan, Utah, board-certified foot and ankle surgeon Matthew Graff, DPM, helps patients keep their feet and ankles strong and healthy. Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis that most often affects the big toe. Along with medication to help lower uric acid levels, keeping an eye on your purine intake can help reduce the risk of flares.
Anyone who has high uric acid levels can benefit from limiting their intake of high purine foods. A low purine diet may even help to prevent gout in patients who have not yet developed gout but have elevated uric acid levels. It may also help prevent existing gout from worsening and lower the risk of other complications, such as kidney stones.
Gout red flag foods
Certain foods and food ingredients can trigger gout or worsen symptoms. Here are some of the top red flag foods to avoid:
- Organ meat
- Game meat
- Red meat
- Meat sauces
In addition, high fructose corn syrup breaks down into uric acid. Watch out for high fructose corn syrup in sugar foods and beverages. Standard table sugar is half fructose, so it’s important to limit your overall intake of added sugar.
Certain seafood is also high in purines. These include:
While many foods contain some purines, avoiding foods and beverages with the highest amount can go a long way in helping to manage gout symptoms.
Foods and beverages beneficial for gout
While eating specific foods will not cure gout, certain foods may help reduce uric acid in your body. Here are some to include in your diet:
Milk: Drinking skim milk may help reduce uric acid and gout flare-ups. It increases uric acid excretion in the urine and reduces your body’s inflammatory response to uric acid crystals in the joints.
Cherries: Scientists are currently investigating the benefits of cherries and cherry juice in the treatment of gout symptoms, and preliminary findings are promising. Cherries have anti-inflammatory properties and may help lower uric acid levels in the body. Eating cherries regularly may reduce gout flares.
Coffee: You may have heard that coffee is acidic, but the acid in coffee is not the same as uric acid. In fact, drinking coffee regularly can lower your uric acid levels. It slows the breakdown of purines while increasing excretion.
Protein: Change up your protein sources. Certain meats and seafood are higher in uric acid, but if you eat a variety and avoid the worst offenders listed above, you’ll be fine.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Most are low in purines, but even those that are higher have been shown to have no effect on gout symptoms.
Grains (except oats): Gout-friendly grains include rice, whole grain pasta, bread, and cereal (except oats). Choose whole grains at least half of the time.
Additionally, drinking enough water is beneficial for gout. Water dilutes uric acid and helps flush it out of the body. Gout symptoms are less likely in people who drink five to eight glasses of water per day. Water is also beneficial to kidney health. One factor that can contribute to gout is impaired kidney function.
Gout is a common and manageable condition. While painful flares can be discouraging, you can get them under control by working closely with a foot and ankle specialist. To learn more about how we can help you get relief from painful gout symptoms, give us a call to schedule a visit with Dr. Graff. You can also request an appointment using our online booking form.