Now that the holiday feasts are over and the New Year is here, it’s a good time to take stock of your diet and consider healthy changes – especially if you have gout.
Gout is a common form of inflammatory arthritis that can unleash intensely painful flares in individual joints, often in the big toe. An estimated 8 million Americans experience gout attacks, which can last for a few days. The condition can also become chronic and lead to the destruction of joints. Although there’s no cure, there are medications to control gout, as well as lifestyle changes you can make to manage the condition – and reduce or even eliminate attacks.
Gout develops in some people who have high levels of uric acid in the blood; the uric acid can form needle-like crystals in soft tissues and joints. Uric acid is produced when the body breaks down chemicals called purines. Purines occur naturally in your body but are also found in certain foods and beverages. If your body can’t get rid of the uric acid efficiently enough (it’s cleaned out of the blood by your kidneys and eliminated in urine), the uric acid in your blood can build up and reach levels that could cause problems (above 6mg/dl).
One way to minimize the risk of a gout flare is to cut back on high-purine foods. The DASH diet – a low-sodium diet that emphasizes fruits and vegetables over red meats and processed foods – is recommended for people with gout. The Mediterranean diet – which emphasizes fruits, veggies, whole grains and healthy fats – may also help. Find more gout info here.
For specific foods and beverages, keep the following tips in mind:
Worst Foods & Beverages for Gout
- At the top of the list of what to avoid is booze. Beer and liquor readily convert to uric acid and they slow down its elimination. Studies have shown mixed results about whether wine is OK in moderation.
- Drinking sugary beverages, such as sodas sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, fruit juices or other sugar-containing drinks, is associated with gout. Notable exception: cherries, especially tart cherries, may be beneficial for gout.
- Go light on red meats, particularly organ meats like liver, tongue and sweetbreads, which are all high in purines. Also avoid or minimize the amount of bacon, venison and veal you eat.
- Maybe surprising: Turkey and goose are very high in purines. Chicken and duck are better bets.
- Some seafoods also are high in purines, including anchovies, sardines, mussels, scallops, crabs, lobsters, oysters and shrimp.
- Some vegetables are on the watch list, too: Consider cutting back on mushrooms, asparagus and spinach – but veggies of any kind are much less likely to trigger a gout flare than alcohol or organ meats.
- Learn more about foods to accept or reject here.
There are also many things you can add to your diet to help avoid or manage gout. Drink plenty of water, milk and tart cherry juice. Drinking coffee seems to help as well. Be sure to talk with your doctor before making any dietary changes.
Get your New Year off to a great start, whether it’s changing your diet, getting in a more positive frame of mind, or embracing a feel-good hobby. Live your best life in 2020! Join the Live Yes! Arthritis Network FOR FREE. Our community is here to help you.