What is the Gout Diet? Foods to Eat and Avoid to Manage Your Symptoms

A gout diet plan can help alleviate gout symptoms and help you to lead a healthy, pain-free life. Learn more about what foods to eat and avoid.

A young man touching his inflamed and painful foot due to gout

Many people suffer from arthritis such as gout. This form of arthritis is the result of uric acid build-up, causing inflammation and swelling of the joints. Sometimes called gouty arthritis, an estimated 8.3 million Americans suffer from this condition. Once called the “Disease of the Kings,” it affects approximately 6 million American men and 2 million American women; though the numbers for women are on the rise and this is mainly seen after menopause.

Gout mainly impacts the big toe but can also affect other fingers, wrists, ankle, knees, and heel joints. Gout causes excruciating pain in the affected joints accompanied by redness and swelling. Over time, uric acid turns to urate crystals that activate white blood cells, leading to severe, painful gout attacks and chronic arthritis.

Several risk factors cause can also cause gout, including obesity, dietary factors, family history, certain medication such as diuretics (thiazide), kidney disease, or cardiovascular disease.

Following an active lifestyle, maintaining your weight, and following a gout diet can control your uric acid levels and help improve your overall well-being to prevent future attacks.

How is Gout Treated?

Symptoms of gout flares in the joints include redness, intense pain, stiffness, swelling, and intense pain. Flares can last for days or weeks, or even stop and come back years later. If you notice these symptoms, see a doctor who can assess your case with an exam. In some instances, this might include getting X-rays, an ultrasound, an MRI, or blood work. Your doctor may suggest steroids, prescription gout medications, or over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as naproxen or ibuprofen. However, sometimes a gout diet plan can help you alleviate or lessen your gout flares without medications.

Foods to Avoid on the Gout Treatment Diet

With the gout treatment diet, stay away from processed foods and foods rich in purines. These can increase the uric acid in the body and trigger gout attacks. Find more gout triggering food to avoid:

1. Alcohol  

A young woman refuses to drink alcohol beverage as a part of her gout diet plan
Those suffering from gout have to avoid alcohol at all costs.

If you are at risk of gout or have suffered from gout, avoid alcohol, and specifically grain liquors and beer. However, occasional wine drinking doesn’t appear to increase gout attacks. If you do have an attack, do not consume alcohol in any form.

2. Seafood and shellfish

Seafood, particularly shellfish, is notorious for causing gout symptoms. Avoid shrimp, anchovies, herrings, sardines, mussels, scallops, trout, haddock, mackerel, and tuna.

3. Red meats  

Red meats such as mutton, lamb, pork, and beef are high in purines. The worst parts are the so-called “spare parts,” such as the brain, livers, and kidneys. With the gout plan, stick with white meats such as poultry.

4. Fructose and sugar-sweetened soft drinks 

The average American eats way too much sugar, consuming 22 to 30 teaspoons every day. This leads to a host of health issues, including gout. To manage symptoms, avoid added fructose and sugar-sweetened drinks. A study showed that men who consumed 2 or more sugary sodas had an 85% higher risk for gout. As mentioned, water is the key as well as some coffee and orange juice, in moderation.

Gout Diet Plan: What to Eat

A young active man having breakfast with a cup of coffee and fruits while working on a laptop
Your morning cup of coffee and a diet rich in vitamin C can help alleviate gout and its symptoms.

The gout treatment diet includes a diet of fruits and vegetables, lean meats, poultry, and seafood. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), gout treatment includes herbs such as Plantago seed (che qian zi), fish poison yam (bi xie), Achyranthes root (niu xi), or lycopodii (shen jin cao). Additionally, foods like cherries, winter melons, cucumbers, green beans as well as garlic, are also beneficial.

1. Low-fat dairy products 

Studies have shown that low-fat dairy products such as yogurt can protect against gout, whereas you should avoid high-fat dairy products.

2. Vitamin C 

Vitamin C, also known as L-ascorbic acid, 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 sugary carbonated drinks with this healthy, refreshing, and zero-calorie drink to keep away gout symptoms. Add vitamin C-rich foods to your diets, such as red peppers, tomatoes, kiwis, and oranges. Some people with gout may have to add in a vitamin C supplement as well.

3. Coffee 

Good news for those with gout, you can still enjoy coffee! Studies found that men who drank 4 to 5 cups of coffee had a 40% lower risk of gout in comparison to non-coffee drinkers. However, it should be consumed without any sugar or high-fat dairy products.

4. The DASH diet  

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is one of the most popular diets to control blood pressure. It can also lower uric acid levels by eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products. It is also important to limit sugar, salt, and fats.

The gout diet has helped many people manage their symptoms and stay away from taking medications or painkillers. Lifestyle changes like the gout diet can lead to a healthy and pain-free life! 

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

References

  1. Mayo Clinic. 2020. Gout diet: What’s allowed, what’s not. [Accessed on December 10, 2021]
  2. American College of Rheumatology. 2020. Gout Research. [Accessed on December 10, 2021]
  3. Pub Med. 2019. Gout and hyperuricaemia in the USA: prevalence and trends. [Accessed on December 10, 2021]
  4. CDC. 2020. Gout. [Accessed on December 10, 2021]
  5. Arthritis Foundation. 2020. Which Foods are Safe for Gout? . [Accessed on December 10, 2021]
  6. National Insituite of Health. 2020. Vitamin C. [Accessed on December 10, 2021]
  7. Arthritis Foundation. 2021. Are Women at Risk for Gout?. [Accessed on December 10, 2021]
  8. Arthritis Foundation. 2021. Does Coffee Help or Hurt Gout?. [Accessed on December 10, 2021]
  9. BMJ. 2017. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, Western diet, and risk of gout in men: prospective cohort study. [Accessed on December 10, 2021]

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