Follow These Diet Recommendations to Reduce Gout Risk

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Certain foods have long been recognized as contributing factors for gout—a painful condition caused by the buildup of uric acid in the joints. For example, eating foods that contain purine, such as poultry, liver, dried beans, and certain meats, increases gout risk. But recent research says the same diet that helps reduce blood pressure can help ease gout symptoms, too.

The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet decreases uric acid in the body and lowers the risk for painful gout flares, according to findings of a study conducted by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and published in Arthritis & Rheumatology. The DASH eating plan, which is recognized as a proven way to reduce blood pressure and improve heart heath, emphasizes whole grains, fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, and lean protein from fish, nuts, seeds, and legumes.

Study participants—more than 100 adults with pre- or stage I hypertension—were assigned either the DASH diet or a typical American diet, and random sodium levels (low, medium, or high) for 30 days. People who followed the DASH diet experienced lower uric acid levels overall, and those who had the highest uric acid levels at the start of the study—levels consistent with gout—experienced the greatest decline.

Researchers do not fully understand the correlation between sodium and uric acid, but the results of this study show the benefit of the DASH diet for reducing gout flares without medication in people who have the painful condition. More research is needed, but it may be possible to lower your risk for developing gout in the first place by adopting this heart-healthy eating plan.