Living With Gout? Eat Less of These Foodsby Carmen Roberts, M.S., R.D., L.D.N. Health Professional, Medical Reviewer
Inflammatory gout is one of the oldest known types of arthritis, and its link to diet has been well-known for centuries. Gout accounts for approximately 5 percent of all arthritis cases nationwide, though it primarily affects middle-aged men. It is estimated that more than 8 million people in America currently live with gout.
How to decrease your risk of gout through diet
The incidence of gout worldwide is on the rise. Obesity, diuretic use, and family history of gout can put you at an increased risk of developing this chronic condition. Due to the strong correlation between what you eat and risk of gout flares, HealthCentral compiled this list of which foods to limit or avoid to decrease your risk of developing or intensifying this painful condition.
Alcohol, particularly beer, is high in purine (a chemical compound in food). Consuming foods and beverages high in purines cause uric acid levels in your body to rise. If your body is unable to get rid of excess uric acid in the blood, needle-like uric acid crystals can build up in your joints and eventually cause a gout attack, or flare. Since excessive alcohol intake is linked to gout flares, it’s important to drink in moderation.
Animal organ meats, such as sweetbreads (the thymus or pancreas of a calf, lamb, cow, or pig), tripe (the stomach muscle lining of a cow), liver, brains, and kidneys are extremely high in purine and should be avoided if you have gout or if you are at an increased risk for developing gout.
Seafood such as scallops, anchovies, mackerel, herring, sardines, tuna, codfish, trout, and haddock are high in purine and should be avoided to reduce the risk of gout flare. Shellfish (mussels, crab, lobster, shrimp, and oysters) are also high in purine and should be consumed in limited amounts.
Gout was historically known a “rich man’s disease” because it was associated with consumption of rich foods (such as fatty meats) that were traditionally unavailable to people who were from the working class. Bacon, turkey, veal, and venison contain relatively high amounts of purine. Beef, chicken, duck, pork, and ham contain moderate amounts of purine and should be eaten in moderation.
Yeast extracts and supplements
Avoid any dietary supplements that contain yeast or yeast extract (such as brewer’s yeast). This is why beer, in particular, can lead to a gout flare: it contains both alcohol (which can inhibit the body’s ability to excrete uric acid) and brewer’s yeast (which is high in purine).
Gravies and sauces
Since they are made with the fat and drippings from meat and poultry, gravies and sauces made from beef, pork, and poultry should be consumed in limited amounts since they also contain high amounts of purine.
A recent, long-term study linked the consumption of beverages rich in fructose (such as sugar-sweetened sodas and orange juice) to increased blood uric acid levels in women. For this reason, many experts are now recommending we limit our intake of sweetened or fructose-rich foods and beverages to decrease the risk of developing gout.
The bottom line
If you live with gout or have a family history of gout that puts you at increased risk, it’s important to know how you can decrease your risk of a painful flare. Achieving a healthy weight, limiting foods high in purine, and good control of other medical conditions (such as diabetes and hypertension) can decrease your risk. Talk with your health care provider if you have additional questions about managing gout.