Gout is a particularly painful type of arthritis caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood. The uric acid eventually causes crystals to form around joints in the body, which is what makes it such a painful condition to have. Fortunately, there are several medications that can be prescribed to help alleviate the symptoms of the disease and prevent further crystals from forming. However, the medications are usually given along with several dietary restrictions. Without a change in diet, the medications alone may not be enough to treat the disease. That's why individuals suffering from gout must be very careful about what they eat. Read on to learn more about making healthy food choices to treat or prevent gout.
What To Avoid
Because uric acid is produced as the body is breaking down purines in the body, it's important to avoid foods which contain excess amounts of this compound. Some of these foods include seafood, meat and alcohol. Avoiding foods that are particularly high in purines is a great way to help treat the condition because it keeps uric acid at a normal level. It's especially important to avoid the following foods which are high in purines:
- Seafood: Almost all types of seafood contain high levels of purine, so it's best to avoid these foods whenever possible. Most doctors recommend that you limit your daily intake of seafood to four to six ounces. During a flare-up of gout, it's wise to avoid seafood altogether until the symptoms subside. Some good choices when you do want seafood are small portions of scallops, salmon, shrimp, crab, eel or lobster. However, it's best to avoid herring, anchovies and tuna entirely because they have so much purine; even small portions of these types of seafood can lead to gout attacks.
- Meat: Choosing meats to eat is very tricky when you're on a restricted gout diet. In general, white meat is a better choice than red meat. However, there are some exceptions. Beef and pork are slightly less dangerous than turkey, goose or lamb, for example, while chicken and duck tend to be the safest choices meat-wise. However, be sure to limit your meat intake to less than six ounces per day, and cut back even further if you are experiencing problems with your gout.
- Alcohol: Beer is especially bad for those with gout since it increases uric acid levels significantly. Like with seafood, very small portions of alcohol can be tolerated, but it's wise to keep a close eye on whether drinking aggravates the symptoms of the condition. In general, a small portion of wine is preferable to a bottle of beer. If a flare-up occurs, avoid alcohol until it subsides.
- Sugary drinks: Basically any drink with high fructose corn syrup, like sodas and fruit drinks, can potentially make gout worse. That's because the sweeteners cause the body to up its production of uric acid. It's best to stick to unsweetened drinks and water to be safe.
- Certain veggies: Not all vegetables are bad for someone with gout, but a few should be eaten very sparingly. Those veggies are asparagus, spinach, mushrooms and cauliflower, all of which have especially high purine levels. Though not as dangerous as seafood or meats, it's still important to monitor your intake of these vegetables if you have gout.
What To Eat
There are some foods with lower purine levels that are great for people with gout. Additionally, some practices may help get rid of any extra purines in the body. It's important to keep in mind that some of the recommended foods for this condition are simply healthy foods that are meant to prevent obesity - a common cause of gout. The following foods are optimal choices for individuals suffering from gout:
- Vegetables: Interestingly, it's the starchy veggies like potatoes, butternut squash and sweet potatoes that are the best vegetable options for those with gout. Baking, boiling, mashing or grilling are all healthy options for preparing these delicious veggies as part of a meal.
- Low-Fat Dairy: Reduce your risk of gout or prevent symptoms from reoccurring by choosing low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Skim milk and low-fat yogurt are two excellent options in this category.
- Fruits: Fruits are rich in antioxidants, which may help reduce the appearance of symptoms related to gout. Although citrus fruits, berries and apples all contain a significant amount of antioxidants, cherries seem to be the top option when it comes to fruits that help with gout.
If you suffer from gout, be sure to consult with your doctor about the best nutritional choices for you. Though these are general guidelines for a gout diet, it's best to take a personalized approach for your own experiences and symptoms.