A gout diet plan, just like diets for other health issues, has a set of recommended foods for the arthritic condition. Know what to and what not to eat in this list of foods.
RELATED: Food To Eat And Avoid On A Gout Diet
In this article:
- What Is Gout?
- What Are the Types of Gout?
- What Causes Gout?
- What Are the Symptoms of Gout?
- What Are the Risk Factors of Gout?
- Are There Any Complications for Gout?
- How Are You Diagnosed with Gout?
- How Do Doctors Treat Gout?
- When Do You Need to See a Doctor?
- What You Can Do Before the Appointment
- What to Expect from Your Doctor
- What to Eat
- What NOT to Eat
Gout Diet Foods and Lifestyle Changes
What Is Gout?
Gout is one of the most common types of arthritis that causes symptoms like stiffness, swelling, and pain in a joint. In most cases, this condition affects the joints of the big toe.
It can occur quickly and return over time, which is very painful and can gradually harm tissues in the area of inflammation. Gout is more common in men, but women are also vulnerable to the condition after the menopausal stage.
What Are the Types of Gout?
Gout has different stages as it progresses, and these are classified by types:
Its signs and symptoms are similar to gout, but the flare-ups are commonly less intense. What’s different about this condition from gout is calcium pyrophosphate crystals irritate the joints instead of urate crystals.
Pseudogout also needs a different type of treatment from gout.
2. Chronic Tophaceous Gout
It’s a more serious type of gout because it can cause permanent damage to your kidneys or joints. You may suffer from chronic arthritis and experience tophi in the joints of your fingers.
Tophi Definition: A deposit of urate crystals that accumulates in the joints.
This condition takes a long time to develop if gout is not treated properly. If you’re receiving appropriate treatments with your gout, it’s unlikely that you’ll reach this stage.
3. Interval or Intercritical Gout
This type is the stage between acute gout attacks. Gout flares may not occur for a long time, but if left untreated, they can often occur and last longer.
4. Acute Gout
This happens when urate crystals deposited suddenly cause intense pain or acute inflammation. This attack normally subsides in 3-10 days.
5. Asymptomatic Hyperuricemia
This type occurs when you have high levels of uric acid and not experiencing symptoms. Treatment may not be required, but urate crystals may still accumulate in the tissue that causes slight damage.
What Causes Gout?
Initially, an excess of uric acid in the blood causes the development of gout. Your body produces this acid when it breaks down purines.
Purine Definition: A chemical compound present in foods that serves as a building block in the body.
In normal conditions, your blood dissolves uric acid, and your kidneys get rid of them through urine. If there is too much uric acid or your kidneys don’t excrete them that much, the acid can accumulate and form crystals.
These needle-like crystals trigger pain and swelling in the joints and the surrounding area.
What Are the Symptoms of Gout?
The condition commonly becomes symptomatic without warning and usually occurs in the middle of the night. The primary symptom is intense joint pain that settles to redness, inflammation, and discomfort.
Although it commonly affects the joint of the big toe, it can also occur in the:
What Are the Risk Factors of Gout?
The following are common risk factors of the condition:
- Recent surgery or trauma
- Lead exposure
- Lifestyle choices
- Age and gender
- Other health issues
Are There Any Complications for Gout?
Yes, there might be complications that can develop into severe conditions like recurrent gout and kidney stones.
Recurrent gout may lead to gradual damage to the affected joint and surrounding tissue. Urate crystals may build up in the urinary tract that can develop into kidney stones.
How Are You Diagnosed with Gout?
There are several ways to help your doctor determine the condition:
- Dual-energy computerized tomography scan – It’s an imaging machine that can spot urate crystals in a joint even if not swollen. Doctors don’t commonly use this test because it’s not widely available and a little costly.
- Ultrasound – Using a musculoskeletal ultrasound can help determine urate crystals in a joint, which is more common than the previous test.
- X-ray imaging – Using x-rays can aid your doctor in identifying other causes of joint swelling.
- Blood test – A blood test can measure creatinine and uric acid levels in the blood. Some patients may have high levels of uric acid with no symptoms, while others experience symptoms but don’t have a high uric acid level.
- Joint fluid test – Your doctor can also extract fluid from the affected joint using this test. With the use of a microscope, the extracted fluid may help them check urate crystals.
How Do Doctors Treat Gout?
Gout treatment usually uses medications to treat acute attacks and avoid future attacks. The medications prescribed might be based on your preferences and current health condition.
These medications can also lower the risk of gout complications, and some examples are:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
When Do You Need to See a Doctor?
If you experience symptoms common to gout, schedule an appointment with your doctor. After examination, your doctor might refer you to a specialist to diagnose and provide proper treatments for your gout.
You can ask your doctor these questions, so you have a better idea of what’s going on:
- What are the potential causes of my condition?
- Which tests do I need to take?
- Are there any lifestyle changes I need to ease the symptoms?
- Do I need to see a specialist?
What You Can Do Before the Appointment
- Write down the symptoms you experienced, including when they started and how frequently they occur.
- Take note of the most valuable details that can help your doctor with the examination, like recent changes in your lifestyle.
- List down the medications or other health issues you are taking or have that can affect the diagnosis and treatment of gout.
- Write down important questions you want to ask your doctor. This helps prevent forgetting questions upon check-up.
- During your visit, you can bring a loved one with you for emotional support and for helping you remember things you should ask.
What to Expect from Your Doctor
Your doctor will usually ask you many questions relating to your symptoms. Being ready to answer them can help you save time, so you and your doctor can go over the points that need thorough discussions.
Prepare to answer the following questions or related ones:
- Do you drink alcoholic beverages? How often and how much?
- What is your usual daily diet?
- Does your family have a history of gout?
- Are you taking medications, vitamins, or supplements?
- Are you under a treatment for other medical issues?
- How often do your symptoms come and go?
- When did you begin experiencing signs and symptoms?
- What are the symptoms you usually experience?
What to Eat
Key point: Always eat foods that are low in purine.
Fruits like pears, avocados, apples, and pineapples have low levels of purine, but you should still eat them in moderation. On the other hand, cherries are effective anti-inflammatories and antioxidants that can help prevent gout attacks.
Green vegetables, beetroot, red bell pepper, squash, cabbage, and kailan are a good addition to a gout diet. Spinach, mushrooms, cauliflower, and asparagus have moderate levels of purine, so eat them in moderation.
3. Nuts and Seeds
Try to include at least two tablespoons of nuts or seeds every day. You can start with walnuts, cashew nuts, almonds, and flax seeds that are low in purine.
4. Herbs and Spices
There are herbs and spices you can add to your home-cooked meals to help regulate your uric acid levels and prevent gout symptoms:
- Turmeric reduces inflammation and protects the cartilage in the joints.
- Cinnamon helps regulate uric acid. It can also lower your insulin levels.
- Chamomile has antioxidants that can prevent inflammation and is often used as a natural remedy for arthritic pain.
- Nutmeg reduces uric acid levels by improving the function of your kidney and liver.
A study shows that higher consumptions of coffee can reduce uric acid levels and prevent an onset. About 4-6 cups of coffee every day can greatly help with gout management.
Coffee may not be suitable for other diets. If you have been diagnosed with other medical conditions, consult with your doctor before increasing your coffee intake.
6. Whole Grains
Whole grains are complex carbs, but they also have moderate amounts of purine. They are a healthy addition to your diet and a great alternative to refined carbs, but you need to limit your consumption.
Eat no more than two servings of whole grains per week.
Eggs are protein-rich animal foods with low purine content. They are healthy options for when you need to watch your weight.
8. Low-Fat Dairy Products
Low-fat varieties of dairies such as milk and yogurt have low purine levels.
9. Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids help manage inflammation. Fish oil is a good source of this, with salmon being a very good source of healthy oil.
You can opt to take supplements, too.
10. Vitamin C Supplements
Vitamin C helps lower your uric acid levels and prevent a gout attack.
Citrus fruits are high in vitamin C but can be high in fructose as well, which can raise your uric acid levels. Choose citrus fruits with lower amounts of fructose such as oranges, strawberries, pineapples, and grapefruit.
You can also talk to your doctor about adding vitamin C supplements to your gout diet.
Always stay hydrated. The water you drink will help your body get rid of the uric acid in your bloodstream and prevent any gout flare-up.
Drink at least eight glasses a day to stay healthy and hydrated. If you’re having a gout attack, increase your water intake to 12-16 glasses a day.
What NOT to Eat
Key point: Foods high in purine may trigger gout attacks.
12. Red Meat
Red meat such as beef, lamb, and pork are the main causes of gout attacks. They have higher purine levels compared to white meat and seafood.
13. Organ Meats
Organ meats from any animal have very high purine levels. Meats like liver, tongue, and sweetbreads are especially strong trigger foods for gout.
Tuna and anchovies can increase the uric acid levels in your body. Coldwater fishes such as trout, salmon, and tuna contain omega-3 but have moderate amounts of purine.
Include them in your diet at least once a week.
Most crustaceans are high in purine. Avoid eating squid, lobsters, crab, oysters, scallops, mussels, and shrimp.
Distilled liquors and beer can cause or worsen gout. A glass of alcohol can increase your gout risk by more than 30%.
17. Sugary Foods and Beverages
High blood sugar levels can increase the risk of a gout attack. When the body breaks down your sugar consumption, it releases purines into your bloodstream.
You should limit your intake of sweet fruit juices and eliminate high-fructose corn syrup from your diet. Avoid eating candies, baked goods, and sweetened cereal.
You can also find high-fructose corn syrup in a lot of sodas. Try to limit your consumption of these drinks or completely avoid them.
Replace your craving for soda with water to help reduce the amount of uric acid in your bloodstream.
Don’t forget to download, save, or share this handy infographic for reference:
Looking for more gout-friendly recipes? Check out this video below and add these delicious recipes to your gout diet:
Strict compliance with the prescribed gout diet, partnered with a healthy lifestyle and regular exercise, may help manage gout. For medical management, consult your doctor.
Which foods do you include in your gout diet? Mention them in the comments section below!
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on April 19, 2019, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.