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.