If you have gout, your doctor may recommend you follow a specific gout diet to help lessen your symptoms. It is important to understand what this type of diet is and why it may help your condition to get the most benefit from it.
What Is Gout?
Gout is a form of arthritis that occurs because of a high level of uric acid in the body, according to MayoClinic.com. The uric acid collects in the joints and forms crystals, which cause the joints to become inflamed and painful. The first symptom is usually pain in the big toe that continues up the leg. Attacks can be experienced in the heels, ankles, knees, elbows, wrists, and fingers. Medication is usually prescribed to reduce the amount of uric acid the body makes. Gout mainly affects men over age 35.
What Is the Gout Diet?
Although most uric acid is made by the body, some foods can increase the amount of uric acid in the blood. These foods contain purines. If someone is known to experience attacks of gout, it is best to avoid these foods and follow a low-purine diet, especially during a flare-up.
High-purine foods include:
- Organ meats such as liver, kidneys, heart, brain, and sweetbreads
- Legumes such as dried beans and peas
- Beer and other alcoholic beverages
- Anchovies, sardines canned in oil, herring
Moderate-purine foods include:
- Dried beans and peas
Your dietitian can provide you with a more complete list of high-purine foods to help you plan your meals.
Best Foods for Gout
So, what should a person with gout eat and drink? It varies somewhat depending on whether you are having a flare up or not.
During a Gout Flare-Up
During a gout attack, you should:
- Drink about 8 to 16 cups of fluids, including water, a day to flush out the excess uric acid in the blood.
- Eat a diet high in carbohydrates (grains such as bread, cereal, pasta, and rice, and fruits and vegetables), moderate in protein, and low in fat.
- Avoid alcohol consumption because alcohol can increase the amount of uric acid in the blood.
A good form of protein for a gout sufferer is tofu or bean curd. Research like a study by Yamakita and colleagues has suggested these foods may increase the elimination of uric acid from the body. Other good sources of protein are low fat dairy products and minimal amounts of eggs and peanut butter. No more than four to six ounces of meat, poultry, or fish should be eaten daily during a flare.
To limit fat intake during a flare, fried foods and rich desserts should be avoided. Limit butter, margarine, and oils to three to six teaspoons per day.
Between Gout Flare-Ups
If your condition is chronic, there are some dietary changes you should consider over the long term.
- Drink at least eight cups of fluid each day.
- Limit alcohol. You should discuss the amount of alcohol intake appropriate for you. Some types of alcohol like beer may bring on a flare of gout.
- Eat a moderate amount of protein each day limiting your intake of red meat and poultry. Good sources of protein include low-fat dairy products.
- Eat a balanced diet with a focus on nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Avoiding foods high in purines is also a good way to lower your risk of another attack.
Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is important in managing your gout. Being overweight or obese can cause build-up of uric acid.
If you are overweight, you should lose weight slowly and steadily because more rapid weight loss can bring on an episode of gout. One to two pounds a week is recommended.
You need to discuss your gout diet plan with your doctor and dietitian to ensure you get necessary nutrients. Your doctor can also make sure you do not aggravate any previous health conditions you might have.