Those afflicted with gout know that flare-ups are painful but, fortunately, they can be prevented by avoiding certain foods. Although the correlation between gout and diet may not seem obvious, many foods can be directly responsible for causing a gout flare-up. That’s because certain foods contain more purines, which are substances that break down into uric acid. When uric acid builds up in the bloodstream, it crystallizes and collects in the joints, causing pain, inflammation and redness, usually in the big toe.
If you have gout and want to prevent this ongoing cycle, try avoiding these 10 foods that cause gout flare-ups.
Certain foods contain more purines than others and red meat is one of those foods. However, white meats, like pork, and poultry are also high in purines, so it’s best to keep your consumption of meats and wild game to an overall minimum. That doesn’t mean that you have to completely eliminate them from your diet, though. Just be sure to heavy a steady mix of vegetables and fruits to go with your regular meals and snacks.
Like red and white meat, organ meats also contain a high amount of purines. Although you may enjoy having liver and onions for dinner, it’s best to cut back on this meal along with other foods that contain organ meats such as pate, sweetbreads, tongue and tripe.
If you’re a seafood lover, you’ll be disappointed to know that fish is off limits during a gout flare-up. Herring, anchovies, sardines, tuna and other oily fishes are off limits because they not only exacerbate symptoms during a gout flare-up, but they can trigger one as well. However, during periods when your gout is under control, it is OK to indulge in salmon, scallops, lobster, shrimp, crab or eel. Just be sure to eat no more than 4-6 ounces a day of whatever type of seafood you choose to eat.
Believe it or not, beer is actually twice as bad for those with gout than meats and seafood. That’s because beer will increase uric acid levels and then make it difficult for the body to get rid of the excess uric acid. Wine doesn’t do as much harm as beer, but it can still increase uric acid levels. Therefore, most doctors recommend avoiding all alcohol if you have gout.
Don’t reach for that soda or fruit juice, either. These drinks contain high fructose corn syrup, which stimulates uric acid production. Studies show that men and women who eat a lot of fructose or drink a lot of beverages with fructose corn syrup have a higher risk of developing gout. Instead of sugary drinks, stick with water, tea, coffee or pure, fresh-squeezed juice.
Animal products are not the only foods that are high in purines. Certain vegetables, like asparagus and spinach, can trigger a gout flare-up, but they don’t seem to cause as much harm as animal-based foods. Purines from vegetables are also excreted from the body more easily that purines that come from meats and seafood.
While some people consider cauliflower to be a bland vegetable, the one thing it is rich in is purines. However, vegetables can help the body get rid of purines and uric acid, so don’t cut them out of your diet completely. They also contain nutrients that can lower insulin resistance, which plays a part in controlling gout flare-ups.
Peas, beans and other legumes are also good sources of purines, which makes them poor food sources for those who have gout. World’s Healthiest Foods ranks peas as having a moderately high to high amount of purines, which is 5 to 100 milligrams of purines per 3.5 ounces of food. However, when eaten in raw form, peas, spinach and asparagus should cause less damage than when cooked, as long as you eat a small portion.
If you were thinking of using mushrooms as a meat-replacement source for meat, you’ll have to think of something else. Like legumes, mushrooms are also considered to have a moderately high to high amount of purines.
Oatmeal and other foods that contain oats do have a moderate amount of purines, although there has been some debate over the exact amount of purines that oats contain. Most doctors recommend that people who have gout should limit their intake of oatmeal and other oat-based foods.
Although this list may seem discouraging if you have gout, many of these foods can still be enjoyed, provided you keep the portions small and only eat them when you are not having a flare-up. Other foods such as citrus fruits, coffee, tea, foods rich in dairy and foods high in complex carbohydrates can actually prevent flare-ups and are, therefore, recommended for people who have gout.