eat less meat - gout diet

Making Smart Meat Choices If You Have Gout

If you’re changing your diet to help lower uric acid levels and reduce your risk of gout attacks, meat choices can have a big impact. Some meats are high in purines.  Purines are substances found naturally in the body as well as in in foods. They are broken down in the body to form uric acid. When excess uric acid in the bloodstream builds too quickly or can’t be eliminated fast enough, it is deposited as needle-shaped crystals in the tissues of the body, including joints, causing intense pain.  So, a high-purine diet puts you at greater risk for uric acid buildup.  And a 2012 study in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases showed that the risk worsens as more purines are included in the diet. But what if meats are your favorite food? Here’s what you should know about your options.

Avoid if Possible

  • Organ Meats –  liver, kidney, heart, sweetbreads, tripe, brain and tongue
  • Fish/Seafood – anchovies, herring, mackerel, sardines, sprats, whitebait, trout, scallops, fish roe, caviar, crayfish, lobster
  • Game – pheasant, rabbit, venison, quail
  • Goose
  • Mincemeat
  • Meat-based Liquids – gravies, broth, consumes, bouillon

 In Moderation

  • Oysters, Mussels, and Most Other Shellfish, Prawns, Shrimp, Scampi
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Duck

Watch Protein Intake

Registered dietitian Sandra Allonen, at Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center in Boston who provides nutritional counseling to gout patients, says the average person needs a lot less protein than they probably are taking in. She uses a formula based on weight to determine daily protein needs. A 150-pound, generally healthy person, for example, needs about 54 grams of protein daily — approximately the amount in 6 ounces of skinless grilled chicken breast — even if they are prone to gout attacks.

For people with gout, “I recommend the more alkaline proteins found in plant-based foods [first] as well as beans and nuts, then fish, then poultry and then red meat,” she says.

As for general dietary recommendations in those with gout, Allonen says it’s case-by-case. If they have regular gout attacks, “I would be more inclined to advise them to be careful with purine-rich foods. If their gout attacks are [few and far] between, I’d be a bit more liberal with their diet and work closely with the health-care provider who is overseeing their gout issues.”

Keep in mind that food is usually responsible for only 30% of the uric acid content in the blood serum. A healthy diet is an important part of managing overall health and lowering uric acid. However, it’s critical that you work with your doctor to treat the root cause of gout.

Author: Amy Paturel

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