Diet for Gout
What is gout?
Gout is a common form of painful inflammatory arthritis which occurs due to accumulation of sharp crystals of uric acid in one or more joints, most often in big toe.
How do we develop gout?
Gout occurs when we have high levels of urate in our blood. It’s normal to have some urate in our bloodstream but excess of urate leads to gout.
Urate is created every day because of break down purine. Purines are chemicals that are created naturally in our body and are also present in certain foods.
About 3/4th of the urate in our bodies comes from the breakdown of purines produced within our body, while only 1/4th comes from the breakdown of purines in food and drink we consume.
As urate levels build up, body gets rid of extra through our kidneys. But if our body is making excess of urate, or our kidneys are unable to excrete enough of it, then urate starts to build up in body.
If urate levels in bloodstream stay too high, urate crystals start to form slowly and accumulate in and around joints, and sometimes under skin and internal organs like kidney.
Gout develops if we have high levels of uric acid in our body.
Factors that increase the level of uric acid in body include:
- Diet – A diet rich in red meat, shellfish and alcohol consumption especially beer, beverages sweetened with fruit sugar (fructose), increase levels of uric acid.
- Weight – An overweight body produces more uric acid and its kidneys have to work really hard to eliminate it.
- Medical conditions –Certain diseases like untreated high blood pressure and chronic conditions such as diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and heart and kidney diseases increases the risk of gout.
- Certain medications – like low-dose aspirin and some medications for hypertension — including thiazide diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitorsand beta blockers — also increase uric acid levels.
- Family history of gout
- Age and sex – The incidence of gout is more in men, usually between the ages of 30 and 50 years. Women generally develop gout after menopause.
- Recent surgery or trauma –can sometimes trigger a gout attack. Receiving a vaccination can also trigger gout in some people.
- Intense joint pain –usually affecting the big toe, but it can occur in any joint like the ankles, knees, elbows, wrists and fingers.
- Discomfort –After the severe pain subsides, there exists some discomfort in the affected joints which lasts for a few weeks.
- Inflammation – The affected joints has all the features of inflammation- redness (rubor), heat (calor), swelling (tumour) and pain (dolor).
- Limited range of motion –As gout progresses, there is limited range of motion.
Goals of Gout diet
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Achieve good eating habits.
- Limit food intake having purines.
- Eat food that control uric acid levels.
A good rule is to eat moderate portions of healthy foods.
One should have a well-balanced diet that has minimum amount of fats and added sugars, but is high in vegetables and fibre for gout.
The general principles of a gout diet:
- Weight loss – An overweight person is more likely to develop gout. Researches have shown that losing weight lower uric acid levels and reduce the number of gout attacks.
- Complex carbohydrates – include sources of complex carbohydrates in your diets such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Avoid foods and beverages with high fructose.
- Water – Increase water intake and stay well hydrated.
- Fats – Cut down saturated fats from red meat, fatty poultry and high-fat dairy products.
- Proteins – Sources of protein should be lean meat and poultry, low-fat dairy and lentils.
- Organ and glandular meats –Avoid meats that have high purine levels such as liver, kidney and sweetbreads.
- Red meat –Limit portions of beef, lamb and pork.
- Seafood –such as sardines, tuna and shellfish — are higher in purines, hence moderate portions of fish.
- High-purine vegetables – such as asparagus and spinach should be limited.
- Alcohol – Alcohol especially beer is known to increase the risk of gout, thus, avoid alcohol during gout attacks and limit its consumption in between the attacks.
- Sugary foods and beverages – Limit or avoid sugar-sweetened foods such as bakery goods and candies also consumption of naturally sweet fruit juices.
Foods that reduce the risk of gout
- Vitamin C – Vitamin C may help lower uric acid levels, thus add vitamin C supplements.
- Coffee – Drinking coffee in moderation, may be associated with a reduced risk of gout.
- Researches suggests eating cherries is associated with a reduced risk of gout attacks.
- Low-fat and non-dairy fat products – skimmed milk and yoghurt
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Nuts, peanut butter and grains