No Doubt: What You Eat Is Linked to Gout

Jan 27, 2018

Happy New Year! We hope you had a great holiday season with family and friends, filled with good food and precious memories. We especially hope that those of you with a history of gout didn’t experience any unfortunate side effects from the festivities!

Unfortunately, holiday feasts can be something of a dietary minefield for gout sufferers. While eating restrictions aren’t as severe with gout as they are for, say, celiac disease, there are still many foods and drinks that can increase your risk of an attack. Those foods have a common factor: purines.

Purines, if you weren’t aware, are organic compounds found in many foods. When they run through your digestive system, your body breaks them down into uric acid. Normally, that’s no big deal. However, if the amount of uric acid in your body gets too high, it can crystalize and deposit painfully into joints—especially the big toe joint. This is what causes those sudden, hyper-sensitive, and extremely painful gout attacks.

With gout, the underlying problem might be that the body produces too much uric acid naturally. It’s also possible that the kidneys are at fault, and unable to filter excess uric acid out of the bloodstream fast enough. Either way, eating foods that are high in purines can put even more pressure on the system and trigger attacks.

Foods and drinks to avoid include:

  • All alcoholic beverages. Beer is the biggest culprit, followed by distilled liquors. A small amount of wine in moderation, on special occasions, may be fine—but ask your doctor first.
  • Certain meats. Generally speaking, organ meats are the highest in purines and the worst for gout. Liver, tongue, kidney, sweetbread, etc. should definitely be avoided. Other high-purine meats include turkey, veal, venison, and bacon (sorry). Meats with more middle-of-the-road purine levels (beef, chicken, duck, pork, ham) can usually be enjoyed in moderation, but again, check with your doctor.
  • Certain seafood. Common fish that are high or moderate in purines include tuna, haddock, sardines, anchovies, codfish, mackerel and trout. Most shellfish are medium to high in purines as well. Fresh (not canned) salmon, whitefish, and tilapia are better choices.
  • Refined carbs. White bread, pasta, sugary sodas, other sweetened beverages, etc. should be limited.
  • Processed foods. Chips, snacks, heat-and-serve frozen foods and dinners, etc. should also be skipped.

So that’s all what you can’t eat. What about what you can eat? The following items are low in proteins (and usually healthy for you in other ways, too):

  • Water
  • Coffee
  • Dairy products (especially low fat)
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Legumes
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole grains

Food and drink is only part of the solution, however. Most people with gout will also require medications to reduce the risk and rate of attacks (and limit their length and severity). If you need help controlling your gout through either diet or medication, please give us a call today at 203-876-7736.