If you live with gout, you know very well the pain of swollen joints, especially the joints in your toes and feet. While anti-inflammatory medications and pain relievers can alleviate, to some degree, some of the pain, preventing an attack is still the best strategy. Avoiding certain foods can make a big difference towards having a relatively pain-free life.
Gout is a metabolic disorder characterized by the crystallization and build-up of excess uric acid in the joints.
Normal levels of uric acid, an antioxidant, are important for the protection of the blood vessels. Uric acid is produced when purines, an organic substance found in certain foods, are broken down. To prevent an attack of gout, here are some foods you should avoid:
Moderate amounts of purines are present in all kinds of meats. You need not avoid eating meats altogether but should limit intake to four ounces per day. Certain organ meats, however, should be completely taken out of the diet because their purine content is very high; these include the liver, kidneys, tripe, sweetbreads, tongue, and brains. Consumption of animal-based foods, such as chicken soup, gravy, and boullion should also be limited.
2. Fish and Sea Foods
Different kinds of seafood contain different levels of purines. If you have gout, you should avoid eating anchovies, sardines, mackerel, herring, and scallops, all of which have the highest levels of purines. Crabs, shrimps, lobsters, and oysters are also high in purines but small amounts can be tolerated. Other fish with moderately high levels of purines that you should limit intake of include trout, salmon, carp, tuna, halibut, snapper, perch, and codfish.
3. Whole Grain
While whole grains have been touted as the healthier grain option, they are not recommended for people with gout. Whole wheat breads, cereals, oatmeal, bran, and wheat germ are all high in purines and should be avoided as much as possible; two servings per week, however, should be the maximum intake if you still want whole grains in your diet. To be safe, the grains in your diet should be limited to products made with refined grains, such as white bread and white rice.
High sugar intake does not directly trigger gout but other conditions, such as diabetes and obesity, that are linked to a diet high in refined sugars can make gout symptoms worse. You can always satisfy your sugar cravings by eating fresh fruits, instead.
Yeast has a high purine content, which means drinking beer, especially more than two drinks for men and one drink for women per day, can increase the risk of having an attack of gout. Not all alcoholic beverages have high purine levels but, once absorbed by the body, they can still increase the production of purines and, consequently, the levels of uric acid.
6. Certain Vegetables
All vegetables are healthy but some have high levels of purines and intake should be limited to a maximum of 1 cup raw and 1/2 cup cooked of these vegetables per week: spinach; beans; lentils; peas; asparagus; and cauliflower.
Strict adherence to a gout diet is important to reduce the frequency and intensity of gout attacks. Purines are found in almost all foods but being mindful of what you eat can make living with gout more tolerable.