The Gout Diet

Gout brings to mind images of sage statesmen from times gone by, swollen leg propped on a stool as profound thoughts are shared. Long associated with dietary excesses, especially red meat and wine, gout continues to be a painful part of daily life for many people. In most cases, changes in diet can bring about a dramatic reduction in symptoms and a return to normal life.

Gout is a variation of arthritis, usually in the hands and feet. It is caused by a build-up of uric acid in the bloodstream. The uric acid forms tiny, but painfully sharp crystals in the joints these cooler extremities.

Uric acid is formed when your body breaks down purines. Purines are found in all body cells and nearly all foods, but the purine level in foods varies greatly. To make things more complicated, not all high-purine foods are bad for you if you have gout. Milk, for example, is high in purines yet can actually reduce your risk for developing gout. In addition to milk, researchers say that other high-purine gout fighting foods include peas, beans, spinach, mushrooms and cauliflower. 

Most high-purine foods should be a limited part of a gout-sufferer's diet. These food include organ meats (like brains and kidneys), anchovies, sardines, herring, scallops and mackerel. These foods are high in purines AND they trigger a build-up of uric acid. Limiting your intake is important if you have gout. You can have breads and cereals, nuts and tofu without fear. In fact, most complex carbohydrates are encouraged.

Sadly, alcohol consumption is linked with gout attacks. Normally one or two alcoholic drinks per day will not trigger an attack.  However, during a gout attack any alcohol, especially beer, should be avoided.

In recent years there have been several pharmaceutical treatments developed for gout. Some, like non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and corticosteroids, treat the symptoms of gout.  Others, with trade names like Zyloprim, Benemid and Probalan, treat the underlying pathology, reducing the uric acid levels in your body.

Another sound strategy for treating gout is drinking lots of water. This helps your body flush out uric acid. Controlling your weight pays dividends, too. Not only does it reduce your body's creation of uric acid, it reduces the strain on your joints, making gout attacks less painful.

Have your dealt with gout? Click on the Comment button and give us your advice!

1 comment:

  1. There is only one way to beat gout, and that is to get uric acid to 5mg/dL or below. Methods vary, but I find allopurinol is the most effective and easiest. Other people have success with diet, but all lifestyle improvements must be backed up with uric acid blood tests, because pain, or freedom from it, is no guide. Until you get rid of all uric acid deposits by maintaining uric acid levels no higher than 5mg/dL you can get gout attacks that are simply a result of old crystals dissolving, and are not related to specific foods or exercise.