The importance of a proper gout diet can not be understated.
Although there are other causes of gout, including genetics, being overweight, and kidney disorders, a purine-rich diet can lead to the production of more uric acid than the body can manage.
Proper diet can help reduce the levels of purine in the body. But a truly beneficial diet also needs to be addressing some of these other factors. Chiefly, losing weight is of paramount importance.
Just to help you understand this a bit better, let’s have a brief science lesson about purines.
It is the name for a particular chemical structure which is a molecule with two rings and is pretty much the same as some of the most important chemicals in your body. Being the compounds that make up your ribonucleaic acid and deoxy-ribonucleaic acid. You might know these better by their acronyms: DNA and RNA.
DNA and RNA are made up from four basic chemicals, two of which are purines, namely Adenine and Guanine and the other two being pyrimidines. When you ingest them, they are often put to work in the forms of Adenine Monophosphate and Guanine Monophosphate in your DNA and RNA. Any left over that are not put to this use are broken down into uric acid.
So basically – if you eat excessive purine-rich foods, you may find that you have increased acidity within your body. The body only needs so many of it to function, and any that are eaten but not utilized will get converted to this acid.
Too much of this increases the concentration to the point that the urate crystallizes and deposits in the joints, and it is this that triggers the an attack.
So first thing to adjust in your diet is the level of purine-rich food intake.
High Purine Foods
There are certain purine-rich foods which need to be avoided as a part of your diet. At the very least a sufferer should cut down on them.
- beef, bacon, lamb and pork
- seafood, anchovies, mussels, herring, tuna
- organ meat such as liver, kidney, sweetbreads
- yeast products, marmite, vegemite
- game, pheasant, partridge, goose
- and some vegetables are also purine-rich: peas, beans, mushrooms, cauliflower
Alcohol should also be avoided. Beer contains some purines, but it is not this that causes the problems. Alcohol itself is implicated in high urate levels by impairing the excretion from the system.
Low Purine Foods
Replacing these purine-rich foods with foods that have less of this substance in your diet will have the effect of lowering the acidity of your body.
Some low purine foods are:
- Fresh berries (cherries are considered to be particularly good for gout)
- Apples and Bananas
- High vitamin-C foods (citris fruits, peppers, red cabbage)
- Leafy vegetables
- Dairy products (choose low fat)
- Pasta, rice, cereal
- Nuts and seeds
As you can see, this proper diet consists of a lot of what would be otherwise considered “healthy” food. As a result of eating a low purine diet, your intake of fruit and vegetables will increase, and that of fatty high-protein foods will decrease.
If the the diet is managed properly, then as well as a direct reduction in uric acid levels, it is likely that weight loss will also occur. Being overweight is actually one of the single biggest predictors of a high urate level.
A high urate level leads to crystals depositing in the joints and subsequent an attack inflammation.
However it is really important to lose weight gradually. Rapid weight reduction can lead the production of ketones (ketosis), which can lead to higher acid levels.
Also, as a part of any healthy diet, but particularly in a gout diet, it is vitally important to drink enough water to help flush out the system. This assists with weight loss by helping achieve a sense of being full.
In summary proper and well-balanced diet has a couple of goals. Chiefly the purpose of a proper diet is to reduce the level of purines ingested, and hence the amount of uric acid produced. But at the same time, weight loss is also important in reducing the chance of future attacks.
Thankfully both of these goals can be achieved at the same time with a well managed and appropriate diet.