What Is A Good Diet For Gout That Will Reduce Your Risk Of Painful Flare-Ups

Discussion in 'Immunology and Rheumatology' started by Mahmoud Abudeif, Feb 29, 2020.

  1. Mahmoud Abudeif

    Mahmoud Abudeif Golden Member

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    More than 8 million adults in the US suffer from a painful condition called gout. There is evidence that unhealthy lifestyles, such as smoking, poor eating and lack of exercise as well as rising obesity rates are increasing the number of people afflicted with this condition.

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    In order to reduce the prevalence of gout and frequency of painful flare-ups, doctors recommend a balanced diet full of vegetables, low-fat proteins, and regular exercise. Here’s what you need to know about how diet can help with symptoms of gout.

    What is gout

    Gout is a painful type of arthritis, or inflammation of joints, particularly in the big toe and knee joints. It happens as a result of hyperuricemia, or too much uric acid in the blood.

    “The problem is either your body produces too much uric acid or it cannot properly excrete the uric acid,” says Shailendra Singh, MD, Rheumatology Medical Director at White River Medical Centre in Arkansas.

    As a result, uric crystals can form, build-up, and get lodged in the joints, inflaming them, and causing excruciating discomfort and pain.

    “Joints get red-hot to touch and swollen. You could be fine for a few weeks to months to even years before you have another episode,” says Singh.

    Foods to avoid for people with gout

    Foods high in a natural compound called purine can trigger painful flare-ups for people with gout because the body breaks purine down into uric acid. Therefore, doctors recommend avoiding high-purine foods like the following:
    • Red Meat: “The biggest culprit for everyday people is red meat. People who eat a lot of beef and pork are at high risk and can trigger a flare,” says Dr. Singh.
    • Shellfish: Shellfish is high in purine as well, which means that lobsters, shrimp, and scallops should be avoided for people susceptible to gout. Even seafood like anchovies – which are in many pasta sauce recipes and often in Caesar salad dressing – can contribute to gout flare-ups.
    • High-fructose corn syrup: This additive is present in a number of sugary drinks. It is in sodas, juices, candy, and even condiments like ketchup and barbecue sauce. It is not always obvious what contains high-fructose corn syrup, so be sure to check the labels on your food.
    • Alcohol: It is best to stay away from all forms of alcohol, which has been shown to increase the risk of gout flare-ups. This is because the ethanol in alcohol increases levels of urates, which is ultimately what crystallizes within the joints causing pain.
    • Processed Foods: Though it is hard to stay away from all processed foods sticking to more whole food options could prevent flare-ups, says Dr. Keenan.
    Foods to eat for people with gout

    An outlier to the rule is purine-rich vegetables like spinach, cauliflower, or mushrooms. These foods are shown to lower the risk of flare-ups. Fruits, especially cherries, are recommended as alternatives to other sugary snacks.

    Also “lean meat, like chicken and turkey, is ok. Leafy greens and vegetable protein like soy are also a good source,” says Singh. “Moderation is the key and avoiding the [high-purine] foods is the most important thing.”

    By swapping out some of the high-purine meats, processed sugars, and alcohol for more wholesome food options you can protect yourself from painful gout flare-ups while also leading a healthier lifestyle. Here are some swaps to consider:
    • Breakfast: Swap out the ham and bacon for an equally salty, smoky option like an omelet with smoked Gouda and Chipotle Tabasco sauce. Or try something totally different like some yogurt with fresh fruit. Try to avoid flavored yogurts since some of them may contain high-fructose corn syrup.
    • Lunch: Swap your favourite burger for a grilled chicken sandwich or veggie burger. And instead of that side of chips, crackers, or pre-packaged cookies, try a fresh piece of fruit or if you want something more savoury, some grilled vegetables or stuffed mushrooms. Wash it down with a bottle of kombucha or carbonated water instead of a beer.
    • Dinner: Swap your shellfish platter for another, low-purine, fish like salmon. Researchers have also found that you can reduce the amount of purine in certain high-purine fish – including turbot, European barracuda, beltfish, Japanese Spanish mackerel, and sea catfish – by boiling it, which transfers the purine from the fish to the boiling water.
    In addition to using these meal ideas, one should ensure they stay well hydrated as dehydration can increase the concentration of uric acid in the body.

    Other ways to relieve symptoms of gout

    One myth is that if someone is suffering from gout, then they’re probably not eating right. But gout is the result of a mix of both genetics and environmental factors.

    “It’s not that their husband or spouse is cheating on their diet, they aren’t sneaking food that they shouldn’t eat, it’s not all diet,” says Dr. Robert Keenan, a rheumatologist at Duke University Health Facility.

    The pain from gout can also be treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), like Aspirin or Ibuprofen and by losing weight, if you’re overweight.

    The important thing to remember for people who suffer from gout is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. By watching purine-rich food intake, eating more vegetables and less unprocessed foods, watching your weight, and exercising more, gout can be managed effectively.

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