Nearly twenty per cent of people suffer from high levels of blood uric acid. Twenty per cent of those further develop gout, a painful type of arthritis.
Gout is a type of arthritis, in which high uric acid levels in the blood lead to needle-like crystal deposits in and around the joints. They are extremely painful with any movement or touch.
Causes of Gout
When your body breaks down ‘nutrients’ in some foods such as fructose and purines, uric acid is formed, which is an antioxidant that helps with immunity. But it has very low solubility in blood and forms crystals when its blood levels reach higher than normal.
Uric acid is continuously produced in the body and eliminated through urine and stools. However, if you are dehydrated (increasing blood concentration of uric acid), consume a lot of food high in purines (producing excess uric acid), or have certain genetic problems (preventing the uric acid breakdown into a substance that the body can excrete), you run an increased risk of gout attacks. Read on this website: Can dehydration cause a gout flare-up?
Purines are natural compounds found in many foods. Your body produces seventy five per cent of its daily purine needs and the rest is obtained through food.
Since the breakdown of purines forms uric acid, generic advice is to avoid foods high in purines, such as meats, seafood, poultry, pulses, and vegetables such as spinach and asparagus in gout or high uric acid conditions.
However, not all purine-rich foods are bad. Read on this website: Should you avoid all high-purine foods in gout?
A Gout Diet
Healthcare experts advise a gout diet to simplify food choices for individuals with gout or high uric acid. A Gout Diet involves:
- Eliminating, or reducing, some foods high in purines; and
- Increasing some foods that lower blood uric acid.
Some points about a Gout Diet:
- It is not a substitute for gout medicines. Continue with them if your doctor has prescribed them for pain or lowering blood uric acid;
- It may slow down the worsening of joint damage;
- It may reduce the risk of future gout attacks; and
- It is not a cure for gout.
Food Recommendations for Gout and High Uric Acid
- Beer: All forms of alcohol are high in purines, with beer having more than the others. They increase uric acid production and reduce water in the blood.
- Organ meats such as liver, kidney, brain and heart.
- High-salt products such as sauces, gravies, pizzas, chips, and salted nuts.
- Distilled hard liquors.
- Red meats such as goat, lamb, pork, and beef.
- High-fructose corn syrup is used as a sweetener in many modern drinks. When your body digests fructose, uric acid is produced. So any product with high fructose is not good for gout, but high-fructose corn syrup is especially bad.
- Sugar-sweetened bakery, candies, and other foods.
- Deep-fried foods: Saturated fats prevent uric acid excretion from the body.
Restrict Consumption or Consume Occasionally
- Sweet fruit juices, even if natural.
- Chicken and duck meat. Choose leg meat over breast meat.
- High-fat dairy items like butter and margarine.
- Oils and oily dressings.
- It is unclear whether shellfish such as shrimp, mussels, scallops, oysters, crabs, and lobsters are okay. Some websites advise against them, while others suggest they are relatively safe. Restrict their consumption to ‘once in a while’, until we know more.
- Wine seems to be a safer form of alcohol, except during a gout attack. As always, alcohol can never be a recommendation; but if you have to have it, choose wine.
- High-purine vegetables such as mushrooms, asparagus, cauliflower, and spinach. They don’t seem to increase the risk of gout attacks but are best consumed in moderation.
- Fatty fish like anchovies, tuna, and sardines. They are high in purines but their health benefits are far more than their downsides for gout. Avoid them during gout attacks.
- Low-fat dairy products, such as milk, yoghurt, and cheese.
- Tea is fine, especially if unsweetened.
- Pasta and noodles.
- Citrus fruits and vegetables: Vitamin C helps in lowering blood uric acid. Tart cherry juice is especially useful if you can handle its astringency.
- Coffee is found to be protective against gout.
- Complex carbohydrates such as whole grains.
- Eggs are a great source of proteins that are low in purine.
- Losing weight and eating fewer calories, even if not from a gout diet, are found to lower uric acid as well as gout attacks.
- Drink a lot of water and stay properly hydrated.
When Gout Diet Guidelines Are Unclear
- I have given links to some authority websites below that list foods to consume for gout. You will find some conflicting views about food items such as shrimp or wine. In all such cases, avoid them if you get gout attacks regularly and continue in moderation if you have high uric acid but no gout attack.
- Always use common sense. Since fructose, processed carbohydrates, animal proteins, saturated fats, added salt, and alcohol are known to cause high uric acid, any food or beverage high in them should be a suspect to be avoided, until cleared by experts.
To Read More
- On this Website: Supplements for High Uric Acid and Gout
- On this Website: Preventive Strategies for High Uric Acid and Gout
- Mayo Clinic: Gout diet: What’s allowed, what’s not
- WebMD: Best (and Worst) Foods for Gout
- PharmacyTimes: 4 Foods and Drinks Gout Patients Should Avoid
- Healthline: Gout-Friendly Eating: Nutrition Guidelines and Diet Restrictions
- News-Medical: Gout and Diet
- Arthritis Foundation: Which Foods are Safe for Gout?
First Published on: 22nd June 2023
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