The diet prescribed for gout patients is an overall healthy diet, which even if otherwise adhered to can promise you good health. However, certain restrictions are imposed in this diet, which may not make it everyone’s choice.
A gout attack is typically characterized by severe pain in the affected joint. The joint at the base of the big toe is most commonly affected.
The attack lasts from 3 to 10 days and then subsides on its own even if not treated. Such untreated gout cases have a high incidence of recurrence.
Gout is caused due to deposits of uric acid crystals in the joints. This occurs due to high blood levels of uric acid.
High uric acid levels result either due to more production of uric acid in the body or due to decreased excretion of uric acid through the urine. The production of uric acid occurs from the breakdown of purines, which are present in the body cells.
In gout patients, it is, therefore, necessary to restrict intake of purines rich foods, especially purine-rich foods of animal origin, which cause a greater risk of gout than purine-rich foods of plant origin.
This diet is, therefore, also referred to as low purine diet or the uric acid diet. The gout diet also recommends drinking more water and fluids, which help excretion of uric acid through the kidneys. Do read causes of gout where risk factors that can trigger gout are also explained.
The diet plan for gout patients is formulated in such a way that the foods advocated contain less or no purines of animal origin and help in the excretion of uric acid through the urine.
Gout attacks usually recur if you do nothing to prevent them. This is where the importance of the gout diet comes in.
The diet does not cure but essentially limits the severity of an attack and reduces the risk of recurrent acute attacks. It is not a replacement for your medication.
Do’s and Don’ts for gout patients
1) Avoid beer, wine, and other alcoholic drinks.
2) If overweight, lose weight.
3) If you are on any medication, make sure it is not adding to your gout risk. There are certain medicines that increase your gout risk.
4) Getting your kidney function tests done will be a good idea to rule out kidney diseases. This becomes necessary in lieu of the fact that most gout cases are due to the improper excretion of uric acid through the urine.
5) Drink plenty of water and fluids every day to ensure that the uric acid in the body is flushed out through the urine. About 3 liters a day will be fine provided your kidneys are functioning normally. Get educated on the benefits of drinking water.
6) Do not smoke. Cigarette smoking increases the acidity in the body and the risk of gout attacks.
7) You should plan your food diet options so that they help in reducing the severity of the gout attack and help to prevent further attacks. That plan is described below.
What foods to eat
The gout diet is planned in such a way as to restrict the intake of purine-rich foods so that uric acid production is at a low and its blood levels do not go overboard. Make sure your food menu contains the foods listed below.
Low-fat dairy products
Eating low-fat dairy products such as low-fat yogurt decreases the risk of gout. Consuming about 16 to 20 ounces at a time will be ideal. This has a protective action against gout.
However, high-fat milk products are not associated with any increased gout risk. Dairy nutrition has some interesting facts on this.
Maintain an adequate intake of carbohydrates because they help in the breakdown of fats. Inadequate carbohydrate intake leads to fats not being completely broken down. Fats then produce substances called ketones. Too much of ketones cause ketosis, which is associated with an excess of uric acid production.
Complex carbohydrates are slowly absorbed and digested as against simple carbohydrates, which are quickly digested and absorbed and cause blood sugar spikes. Complex carbohydrates, therefore, do not cause a sudden increase in sugar levels in the blood. This slow and steady supply of sugar is continuously converted to energy and prevented from being deposited in the body as fats.
Sources of complex carbohydrates: Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are good sources of complex carbohydrates.
Avoid foods that contain refined carbohydrates like cakes, candy, and white bread.
Drink 3 to 4 cups of black tea or green tea. They reduce the gout risk, especially in men.
Gout and Berries
Last but definitely not the least, berries actually lower uric acid levels in the blood. The anthocyanins found in berries also have anti-inflammatory properties, which help in gout patients. Tart berries, blueberries, strawberries, bilberries – take your pick. They are great for your gout and should be part of your gout diet.
List of foods to avoid
Having seen the foods to choose for gout, it is most necessary to understand what foods increase your risk of gout attacks and should be prevented.
High purine foods
- Red meat: beef, lamb, organ meat, sweetbreads, and pork
- Seafood: herring, anchovies, mussels, sardines, prawns, crabs, caviar and tuna
- Birds: goose, pheasant, and partridge
- Yeast extracts
- Alcohol: Beer, wines and all other alcoholic drinks
Avoid sugar and sweets
Though there is no direct evidence that sugar and sweets increase uric acid levels, these foods should be avoided in lieu of the fact that they contribute towards weight gain, which is a gout risk factor.
Though fructose and sugar beverages and sweetened foods are not purine-rich, they raise uric acid in the blood by accelerating several cellular processes.
Foods that are rich in purines but pose no gout risk
These are the purine-rich foods of plant origin. Though rich in purines, they have a different impact than animal-based foods and pose little or no gout risk. They can be taken in moderation and include:.
Missing proteins by avoiding animal-based foods can be compensated by eating protein-rich plant-based foods.
Foods that can help prevent gout
- Hot peppers
- Cherry juice