Diet

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.

Purines

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.

Citrus fruits are good for gout sufferers because they\'re great sources of Vitamin C.
by Pressebereich Dehner Garten-Center under CC BY-ND
Citrus fruits are good for gout sufferers because they contain high amounts of  Vitamin C.

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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)
  • Tomato
  • Celery
  • Leafy vegetables
  • Pineapple
  • 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.

Weight Loss
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.

Gout Diet
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.

Comments

  1. You list seeds in low purine foods

    I found out sunflower seeds trigger a lot of my gout attacks so I quit the seeds and only 1 flare up this year(2010) ohithurtssomuch

  2. Hi Alan

    Thanks for pointing that out. Sunflower seeds are higher in purines than many other seeds, but they still fall into the low end of purine content.

    However different foods affect people differently so you’ve done the right thing by identifying sunflower seeds as a trigger for you and removing them from your diet

    Cheers
    Brett

  3. Iris Nahemow says:

    I’ve been reading your information to plan healthy eating for my husband. He has gout, kidney disease, is on dialysis and has heart disease. Some things, like drinking water, are contraindicated in dialysis, and he is supposed to avoid multi-grain breads, limit tomato, limit dairy and other foods recommended for gout. Any suggestions?

  4. I have gout and by God it is the most painful thing I have experienced. I am trying to educate my self as I am 70lbs overweight, and unhealthy. Looks like all meats are off limits. How will I get my protein . It appears beans are also off limits so what should I eat for protein.

  5. Hi. Is it true that roast meat and beer are a big contributing factor for gout attacks?

  6. Only if that’s all you eat 🙂

    Everything in moderation.. that’s the key. Eating roast beef or having a beer is not going to set off a gout attack unless your uric acid levels are really high already. And even then you can’t be sure that they are what’s causing the problem. Don’t focus in on one or two foods. Take a holistic view of your diet and your overall health. Focus on that and you can be rid of gout without ever worrying about specific foods.

    I now eat whatever I want. I eat meat and shellfish. But it’s all in moderation. I don’t drink beer or any alcohol any more, but it wasn’t the gout that made me stop drinking. But I bet you if I did have the occasional beer it wouldn’t set off gout.

    Cheers
    Brett

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