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SAY GOODBYE TO GOUT! Nutrition tips and tricks for those suffering from gout.


As the summer cookout season approaches many of us will start eating rich foods and may consume a celebratory drink or two. For many people suffering from gout or gouty arthritis, summer events can be tough to navigate without a flare up of pain or discomfort. If you or someone you know is suffering from gout. Do not fret. There are steps that can be taken to manage and prevent gout flare-ups.


If you do not suffer from the disease, you may be wondering- What is gout? Gout or gouty arthritis is a form of arthritis that is characterized by abrupt attacks of pain, tenderness, redness, and swelling in the joints, most commonly the joint at the base of the big toe. Gouty arthritis is caused by a buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints. Uric acid is the breakdown product of purines which is found in many of the foods that we consume. Our kidneys usually work to filter out uric acid into our urine, but dehydration or poor kidney function as well as other health issues or medications may slow down the metabolism/excretion of uric acid. Increased concentrations of uric acid in the blood lead to the formation of uric acid crystals in the joints of the body. When the uric acid crystals deposit in the joints of the body, the body’s immune system recognizes that this is not normal and attacks the joints to get rid of the crystals. This immune response leads to inflammation of the affected joints which causes the pain, redness, and swelling in joints gout is known for. Over time, if left untreated, the chemicals involved in the inflammatory response to the uric acid crystal deposits can begin to break down or degenerate the bony surfaces in the joint. This degeneration can eventually lead to malformed joints that may require surgical intervention if severe enough.


The good news!

Though degeneration caused to the bones of a joint affected by gout cannot be reversed, gout itself can be effectively managed to slow down or stop these degenerative changes and joint pain. One answer is pharmacological intervention. Medications that help reduce the body’s inflammatory response or limit the production of uric acid are often prescribed to individuals suffering from gout. Medications are a great way to get quick relief from gout, but they are often not a great long-term solution as they do not address the root of the problem- consuming foods rich in purines (a chemical precursor to uric acid.) Below we will discuss foods to avoid when suffering from gout and foods that are beneficial for gout sufferers or those prone to gouty arthritis.


All gout sufferers should avoid excessive alcohol intake and foods rich in purines. Alcohol should be limited or avoided altogether when at risk or suffering from gout because it is high in purines and acts as a diuretic which means that it dehydrates the body. Dehydration is a problem for gout sufferers because it slows down the body’s excretion of uric acid. Some alcohols are worse than others because of their purine content. Beer is very high in purines, whereas wines and spirits contain fewer purines. It may be a good idea to skip your favorite lager and choose a nice sparkling wine instead!


Many foods are rich in purines so be careful at summer festivities! Generally, meats, fish, poultry, and some vegetables are high in purines. A more specific catalog of high purine content foods to limit and/or avoid is listed below.


Foods to avoid/limit:

Sunflower Seeds Shrimp Organ Meat Duck Caviar

Sardines Tuna Dried Apricot Mackerel Perch

Venison Lobster Halibut Anchovies Ham

Chicken Lentils Mussels Scallops Cod

Raisins Lamb Oysters Turkey Veal

Mushrooms Asparagus Cauliflower Spinach Beef

High Fructose Corn Syrup Salmon Most Beans Broccoli Corn

Brussels Sprouts Herring Honey Clams Squid

Oyster Sauce Soy Sauce Sugary Foods Rice bran


What Can I Eat?

After reading the list of foods to avoid, one may be left wondering- WHAT CAN I EAT? Those suffering from or at risk for gout should consider following a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains which provide complex carbohydrates. Proteins can be obtained from sources low in purines including low-fat dairy products, tofu, and eggs. Some foods and nutrients can even help lower the amount of uric acid in the body. Vitamin C and coffee have been said to help lower uric acid levels in the body, but evidence of these claims is limited. One of the most famous natural remedies for gout includes consuming cherries or tart cherry juice concentrate. Cherry juice has been found to reduce the body’s uric acid concentration and acts as a natural anti-inflammatory. A dosage of cherry juice is not clear, but studies have shown that people who drink one glass of tart cherry juice per day have lower uric acid levels than those who do not.


When it comes to that next summer event, do not be afraid to treat yourself a little, but keep in mind foods that are safe to eat and foods that you should try to limit or avoid. Good nutrition is key to a happy and healthy summer!

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