Gout, a form of arthritis, is a common health problem that is increasing worldwide. Anyone with high levels of uric acid can develop gout. Excess uric acid freezes into sharp particles that settle in your joints, causing inflammation and harm. Since gout can be caused by hyperuricemia (high amounts of uric acid in the blood), you should work to reduce the amount of uric acid in your body. Despite the advances in medical science to find several ways to treat gout, a healthy eating plan remains the best way to manage gout.
A gout diet usually limits the intake of foods and drinks that are high in purines. Therefore, a low-purine diet encourages the consumption of foods that can lower the levels of uric acid in the body (alkaline diet). This is because purine reduction lowers uric acid levels because purine from food breaks down into uric acid in the body. Furthermore, these diets can help people with hyperuricemia who have not yet developed gout. In addition, it stops the development of existing gout or avoids other consequences.
Read on to find out the best and worst foods to eat to prevent and manage gout.
Gout diet: an overview
Excessive amounts of uric acid develop in the blood and crystals form in and around the joints, resulting in the painful arthritis, known as gout. Either the body produces too much uric acid occasionally, or the kidneys fail to handle it well. To combat gout flare-ups, sometimes it’s best to follow a specific dietary plan. The best diet program for managing gout may include foods that help achieve and maintain weight loss. This is because weight management is also one way to manage gout.
There is no diet that can cure gout. However, it may reduce the likelihood of subsequent gout attacks and delay the course of joint damage. Even those on a gout diet still need medication to control their symptoms and lower their uric acid levels.
The best foods to eat on a gout diet
Eating healthy food is a strategic goal in the control and prevention of gout because nutritional factors clinically and strongly influence gout. According to research, a gout diet should be well balanced and contain the proper nutrients. Additionally, they should include low-purine foods, alkaline foods rich in antioxidants, and adequate fluids.
Here are some foods that you should include in your gout diet.
Milk and low-fat dairy products
Milk may help reduce gout attacks and uric acid. This is because it reduces the body’s inflammatory response to uric acid crystals in your joints and speeds up the excretion of uric acid through the urine.
Besides lowering uric acid, as previously discussed, a low-purine diet also helps manage gout. Another potential advantage of eating low-purine foods is that you may lose weight. Excessive weight gain and accompanying metabolic disorders are important causes of gout. Therefore, losing weight greatly reduces your likelihood of developing gout. It also relieves gout symptoms by relieving pressure on your joints.
Foods that are low in purines include:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Nuts and grains (except for oats)
- Carbs: Potatoes, rice, bread, pasta (don’t max while enjoying it!)
High alkaline foods
Since the acidic or alkaline properties of food also affect uric acid levels, a gout diet should not be based solely on the number of purines in foods. Moreover, alkaline foods help the body get rid of uric acid more efficiently. If your current diet is not increasing your pH levels, consider including more highly alkaline foods in your diet, such as:
- Fruits like papaya, cherries, watermelon and berries
- Pumpkin seeds, chestnuts, chia seeds
Foods that can aggravate the condition
According to studies, eating a lot of red and processed meat and meals that are high in sugar increases the risk of developing gout. Therefore, foods such as deli meats, stock meats, pickles, chocolate, bacon, canned meats, fish and spinach should be avoided.
Other foods to avoid on a gout diet are:
Drinking beer, wine, and strong alcoholic beverages can increase uric acid levels. In some people, gout attacks may also be triggered by low-level alcoholic beverages. Therefore, even if drinking alcohol in moderation does not increase the risk of gout attacks, it is best to avoid alcohol.
Eating fructose can increase uric acid levels. This is because such foods release purines. Therefore, avoiding meals and drinks that are high in sugar or fructose is critical to preventing the onset of gout.
Some examples of these foods are:
- Sugary drinks like fruit juices and soda
- High fructose corn syrup
Many vegetables are high in purines. Therefore, it is necessary to restrict their intake when following a gout diet. Moreover, some types of seafood contain more purines than others. Therefore, while you can eat fish in moderation without harm, some seafood should be avoided.
The following are examples of vegetables and seafood that contain very high levels of purines:
- Vegetables: Mushrooms, peas, spinach, asparagus, broccoli sprouts, and cauliflower.
- Seafood: anchovies, oysters, sardines, tuna
By proactively tracking the best and worst foods you can eat for gout, you can take more control of your overall health and well-being. It is important to remember that diet cannot replace medications for gout. Paying attention to your food may help reduce your need for medication, although diet alone is not enough to control gout. Additionally, we advise you to gradually reduce your consumption of purine-rich foods if you find it impossible to avoid them completely.
- Unsweetened whole grains with low-fat milk
- Fresh strawberries: 1 cup
- Coffee: 1 cup
- Fresh cherries or other fresh fruit: 1 cup
- Caffeine-free beverages, such as herbal tea: 1 cup
- Whole wheat pita bread
- Mixed green salad with vegetables
- Green beans, roasted or steamed
- Whole grain toast
- Low fat yogurt
Eat more whole grains, fruits and vegetables because they contain complex carbohydrates. Limit foods and drinks that contain corn syrup, and consume only small amounts of naturally sweet fruit juices. Whatever diet you’re on, make sure you stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water at regular intervals.
Other lifestyle changes
If you have gout, being overweight can increase the likelihood of gout attacks. That’s because being overweight may increase your level of insulin resistance. In these conditions, the body cannot effectively remove sugar from the blood using insulin. Insulin resistance also encourages high levels of uric acid. Having said that, stay away from a strict diet, which entails trying to shed pounds quickly by eating very little. The likelihood of gout attacks can be increased as a result of rapid weight loss.
Drinking enough water allows the body to get rid of the excess uric acid through the urine and clean it from the blood. It is very important to stay hydrated if you exercise frequently because you lose a large amount of water through sweat.
For people with gout, exercise can have a preventative benefit. It can help lower uric acid levels, reduce inflammation, keep people active and at a healthy weight, and even reduce insulin resistance. But since joints can be very sensitive, do so according to your specific tolerance.
A gout diet can help reduce the buildup of uric acid and promote its excretion. However, it is important to realize that a gout diet is not a form of treatment. Alternatively, lifestyle changes can reduce or even eliminate gout symptoms. In addition, it may reduce the frequency and severity of attacks. A gout diet, calorie restriction, and moderate exercise can improve your overall health by helping you maintain a healthy weight.
A balanced diet can help control the amount of uric acid in your body, but you may still need medication to stop gout attacks in the future. It’s not likely that a gout diet will reduce blood levels of uric acid enough to treat gout without medication. Your doctor will likely advise you to exercise more frequently, lose weight, and follow a gout diet. In many cases, medications can help control gout more than a diet low in purines. Find out what’s best for you by talking to your doctor.
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