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The Gout Diet: Foods to Eat and Avoid to Manage Its Symptoms

The gout diet is an effective way to manage the symptoms by modifying your dietary habits. Learn what foods to eat and those to avoid.

Two feet with swelling and redness of the big toe on the right foot

The gout diet has brought much-sought relief to many people suffering from the disease. Gout is an inflammation of the joints caused by the accumulation and deposition of uric acid. It mostly affects the big toe but may affect other fingers, wrists, knees, and heel joints.

Gout symptoms are attacks of excruciating pain in the affected joint accompanied by redness and swelling. Moreover, they are more common in men than in women. 

Several risk factors cause gout, including obesity, dietary factors, and other medical conditions like chronic kidney failure and cardiovascular disease. It is thought that the rising incidence of obesity across the world is also responsible for the increase in gout. As most of the risk factors link to diet, it is not surprising to see the importance of food in controlling symptoms and there are some foods that can cause gout. 

When you have an acute gout attack, your doctor will prescribe gout medications to reduce the deposition of uric acid in your joints and painkillers to relieve the pain. However, keeping a watch on what you eat can complement gout treatment and prevent further attacks.

Foods to Avoid for Gout

Fish, prawns, meats on a wooden tray with a bar of chocolate, broccolis, nuts, mushrooms surrounding it
Foods rich in purines increase the risk of gout symptoms.

Foods that are rich in purines increase the uric acid in the body and trigger gout attacks. These include mushrooms, dried peas and beans. The following foods are also notorious for triggering gout attacks:

1. Alcohol  

If you are at risk of gout or have suffered from gout, avoid beer at all costs. The popular drink among adults is the number one culprit in triggering gout attacks. It is advisable to have other types of alcohol in moderation as well. Hence, if you must have a drink, wine appears to be the safest bet – but do be responsible and avoid drinking more than a glass.

2. Seafood and shellfish

Seafood, particularly shellfish, is notorious for causing gout symptoms. Fish that you should avoid include anchovies, herrings, sardines, mussels, scallops, trout, haddock, mackerel, and tuna.

3. Red meat  

Red meat such as mutton, lamb, pork, and beef should be avoided with gout as they’re high in purines. The worst parts are the so-called “spare parts,” such as the brain, livers, and kidneys. Though these are a part of many delicacies, it is best to stick to white meats such as chicken to fulfil your meat cravings.

4. Fructose and sugar-sweetened soft drinks 

Fructose and sugar-sweetened soft drinks cause most lifestyle-associated diseases today, and gout is no exception. If you must drink something other than water, go for naturally refreshing beverages.

Supplement Gout Treatment with These Foods

Fruits, nuts, seeds with a board displaying “gout”
Include foods rich in vitamin C and antioxidants in your diet to prevent gout symptoms.

Gout treatment foods in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) include herbs such as plantago seed (che qian zi), fish poison yam (bi xie), achyranthes root (niu xi), or lycopodii (shen jin cao). Meanwhile, food that disperses Heat from the body, such as winter melons, cucumbers, and green beans, is also recommended.

Here are some other foods that suit a gout treatment diet.

1. Low-fat dairy products 

Studies have shown that low-fat dairy products protect against gout, making it one of the foods accessible for a gout treatment diet. However, you should avoid high-fat dairy products.

2. Vitamin C 

Vitamin C has antioxidant properties, and it is highly recommended to supplement your diet with foods rich in this vitamin. Rooibos tea is a herbal tea rich in vitamin C and antioxidants and has an anti-inflammatory effect. Substitute the sugary carbonated drinks in your life with this healthy, refreshing, and zero-calorie drink to keep gout symptoms away. Other foods rich in vitamin C are tomatoes, kiwis and oranges.

3. Coffee 

Studies have shown the protective effects of coffee on gout. Drinking coffee in moderation may associate with a reduced risk of gout. However, if you have other health conditions, talk to your doctor about how much coffee is good for you.

4. DASH diet  

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is actually recommended to control blood pressure. It suggests eating more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products and limiting salt and fats in the diet. A study that assessed men over 26 years observed fewer gout symptoms in men who followed the DASH diet.

The gout diet has helped many individuals manage their symptoms well and stay away from painkillers. Make the change today. Adopt the gout treatment diet for a healthy and pain-free life! 

This is an adaptation of an article, “Foods to Avoid to Stay Gout-Free”, which first appeared on the Eu Yan Sang website.

References

  1. Nature Reviews Rheumatology. Dehlin M, Jacobsson L, Roddy E. 2020. Global epidemiology of gout: prevalence, incidence, treatment patterns and risk factors[Accessed 15 September 2021] 

 2. National Library of Medicine. 2017. Recent advances in understanding and managing gout. [Accessed 25 July 2022] 

3. PLOS One. 2017. Triggers of acute attacks of gout, does age of gout onset matter? A primary care based cross-sectional study. [Accessed 25 July 2022] 

4. Medicine. Treatment for acute flares of gout. [Accessed 25 July 2022] 

 

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