Gout is a form of arthritis and occurs when high levels of uric acid in your blood cause crystals to form and accumulate around a joint. Uric acid is formed when the body breaks down purines. Purines occur naturally in the body. An excess of purines can accumulate in the blood from an overindulgent diet high in meat, shellfish and alcohol. Obesity is also risk factor for gout. To lose weight, avoid drastic diets or high-protein diets. It’s important to drink plenty of water to help flush out the uric acid. Research supports that low fat dairy may decrease the risk of gout.
High purine foods include:
- Organ meats (liver, kidneys, sweetbreads)
- Meat extracts, beef broth, consommé and gravies
Here are the gout dietary guidelines from the Mayo Clinic:
- Limit meat, poultry and fish. Animal proteins are high in purine. Avoid or severely limit high-purine foods, such as organ meats, herring, anchovies and mackerel. Red meat (beef, pork and lamb), fatty fish and seafood (tuna, shrimp, lobster and scallops) are associated with increased risk of gout. Because all meat, poultry and fish contain purines, limit your intake to 4 to 6 ounces (113 to 170 grams) daily.
- Cut back on fat. Saturated fat lowers the body’s ability to eliminate uric acid. Choosing plant-based protein, such as beans and legumes, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products will help you cut down the amount of saturated fat in your diet. High-fat meals also contribute to obesity, which is linked to gout.
- Limit or avoid alcohol. Alcohol interferes with the elimination of uric acid from your body. Drinking beer, in particular, has been linked to gout attacks. If you’re having an attack, avoid all alcohol. However, when you’re not having an attack, drinking one or two 5-ounce (148-milliliter) servings a day of wine is not likely to increase your risk.
- Limit or avoid foods sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup. Fructose is the only carbohydrate known to increase uric acid. It is best to avoid beverages sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, such as soft drinks or juice drinks. Juices that are 100 percent fruit juice do not seem to stimulate uric acid production as much.
- Choose complex carbohydrates. Eat more whole grains and fruits and vegetables and fewer refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, cakes and candy.
- Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Some studies have shown that low-fat dairy products can help reduce the risk of gout.
- Drink plenty of fluids, particularly water. Fluids can help remove uric acid from your body. Aim for 8 to 16 glasses a day. A glass is 8 ounces (237 milliliter). There’s also some evidence that drinking four to six cups of coffee a day lowers gout risk in men.
Following a gout diet can help you limit your body’s uric acid production and increase its elimination. It’s not likely to lower the uric acid concentration in your blood enough to treat your gout without medication, but it may help decrease the number of attacks and limit their severity.
Following the gout diet and limiting your calories — particularly if you also add in moderate daily exercise, such as brisk walking — can also improve your overall health by helping you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.