Gout is a painful inflammatory rheumatic disease caused by excessively high concentrations of uric acid in the blood. As a result, sharp, pointed uric acid crystals are formed. And these can damage the joints and cause inflammation.
Very often, a hereditary predisposition to gout – the so-called hyperuricemia – is the culprit. However, diet plays an important and decisive role in the long-term well-being of patients. Through the right diet, you can alleviate the symptoms and reduce the frequency of gout attacks.
Various foods, such as cherries, are known to help against a gout attack while others, like alcohol, worsen the condition. In this article, we’ll show you the foods you should eat and those to avoid you have gout.
Foods to eat if you have gout
A priori, certain foods would be beneficial for people suffering from gout because they would reduce hyperuricemia. These are dairy products – preferably low in fat – and coffee. It is also advisable to favor the consumption of foods low in purines such as eggs, vegetables, fruits, oilseeds, pasta, bread, and cereals.
1. Low fat foods
The links between sugar intake and gout are fairly well-established thanks to a large international cohort. This study showed that the intake of sodas was associated with a risk of developing the disease via an increase in uric acid or chronic hyperuricemia, which is the basis of the disease.
It is also best to eat foods that are low in fat, as high fat intake promotes the development of so-called ketones, which interfere with the elimination of uric acid by the kidneys. So, no more sauces and fried foods.
2. Dairy products
Dairy products, on the other hand, can be consumed without moderation. They stimulate the elimination of uric acid through an effect attributed to lactic proteins (casein, lactalbumin). Protein foods of plant origin are also important because they compensate for the decrease in the consumption of meat and fish.
3. Foods rich in vitamin C
Supplementation with vitamin C would also be beneficial because the latter has a small uricosuric effect, that is to say, it causes the elimination of uric acid by the kidneys.
4. Lots of water
Studies have shown that the risk of gout attacks decreases with the high consumption of unsweetened drinks. Gout sufferers are therefore advised to drink plenty of water to reduce their uricemia (1.5 to 2 liters per day), and more particularly alkalizing water, capable of reducing the risk of formation of uric acid stones in the kidneys.
Foods to avoid if you have gout
Meats (and animal proteins in general) are rich in uric acid. For example, there are around 100 to 200 mg of uric acid for an average serving of 100 g of meat. Meats are also a source of saturated fat, which decreases the body’s ability to eliminate the uric acid that is responsible for the symptoms.
One of the first things to do when you have a gout attack is to reduce your overall meat consumption. The latter promotes the development of hyperuricemia in predisposed people.
Certain meats (such as rabbit meat, prime rib, or even chicken meat) are among the pieces of meat least rich in uric acid (less than 100 mg / 100 g). That said, it is still advisable to limit them at the onset of gout attacks.
2. Organ Meats
Organ meats (offal) are among the richest animal proteins in uric acids. In fact, 100 g of offal provides an average of 300 mg of uric acid per 100 g portion, which is about twice as much as normal meat! Some organ meats such as calf liver or poultry liver even show record levels close to 400 mg / 100 g!
Organ meats are also very rich in purines, which are also converted into uric acid by our body.
The consumption of organ meats promotes the onset of gout attacks, which is why their consumption should be avoided, even outside of a crisis.
3. Saturated fat
Saturated fat promotes the onset of acute gout attacks. This type of fat, which is harmful to the heart, also prevents our body from eliminating uric acid, which promotes its accumulation.
In the event of a gout attack (and beyond), it is advisable to monitor your consumption of foods rich in saturated fatty acids. Thus, cheeses, crème fraîche with more than 15% fat, mayonnaise, and other industrial sauces (aioli, mustard, etc.), whole milk, or even butter should be avoided as much as possible to limit the risk of an attack occurring.
In any case, remember that a diet that is too fatty should generally be avoided because it promotes weight gain and hyperinsulinemia, two risk factors for gout.
Fish are also a source of uric acid (over 100 mg per 100 g). Consuming them increases uricemia, hence the importance of limiting them in the same way as meats and offal. Oily fish (herring, mackerel, trout, salmon, etc.) are particularly to be avoided, as they are additionally rich in fat.
What about seafood? Although less fatty, seafood also contains uric acid. They are to be avoided in the event of a gout attack and to be consumed occasionally outside of attacks.
5. Cold cuts
Like all proteins of animal origin, cold cuts are also rich in uric acid and saturated fats. There is more than 100 mg of uric acid per 100 g serving of cold meats, which also makes them foods to avoid in case of gout.
6. Fatty cheeses
While cheeses contain little uric acid, they are high in saturated fat. In the event of gout, it is advisable to give preference as much as possible to less fatty cheeses (less than 20% fat) and to control your consumption of cheese as a whole.
7. Foods rich in fructose
The breakdown of fructose leads to the formation of uric acid in our bodies. Therefore, a diet too rich in fructose promotes the onset of gout.
Foods high in fructose such as honey, fruit juices, sodas, and sugary drinks should be consumed in moderation. It is also advisable to limit sugar, in general, to avoid an increase in insulin which will slow down the elimination of uric acid.
Alcohol promotes the formation of uric acid. Drinking wine, whiskey, gin, vodka, rum, or even beer is thus likely to trigger an acute gout attack. Among the various alcohols, beer has particularly high levels of uric acid (around 205 mg / 300 ml): it therefore particularly promotes the accumulation of uric acid in the body.
9. Certain vegetables
Some vegetables contain high amounts of uric acid and therefore contribute to the onset of a gout attack. This is the case with mushrooms, baby spinach, cauliflower, asparagus, and sorrel.
Dried vegetables (lentils, beans, etc.) are also to be avoided.
In case of a crisis, avoid consuming the legumes as well as vegetables rich in uric acid mentioned above.
10. Some dietary supplements
Certain food supplements are not recommended in case of gout. This is particularly the case with spirulina and brewer’s yeast, which have high levels of uric acid. Although they are natural, taking these two food supplements is, therefore, contraindicated in people with gout.
Betsy is a true science nerd, down to the glasses. Her words, not mine! She works as a nurse specializing in pediatric nursing. She holds a Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania. She is passionate about all thing pregnancy and baby-related.