One of the more common forms of arthritis, gout is caused when your body has too much uric acid. Most of the pain is felt in your foot, specifically in the joint of your big toe. Not only does uric acid cause gout, but there are other factors that include being overweight or consuming too much alcohol. Gout is on the rise in the United States, and it’s estimated that more than 8 million people currently have this ailment that causes great pain.
Eating a healthy diet that concentrates on lowering your uric acid and purines is the best way to avoid gout, as well as the symptoms that come with it. Foods that would normally be considered healthy might not be good for gout, while others that you might think would cause gout can actually help. Let’s take a look at some of the foods you should be eating and avoiding if you want to stay away from gout.
DO Eat: Cherries
Many of the fruits out there are going to be able to help you control gout, but cherries stand far above the rest. Studies have shown that people who eat an average of 20 cherries per day reduce their chances of a gout flare-up by 50 percent. Even those who simply used a cherry extract were able to reduce their gout symptoms by around 40 percent. 20 cherries might sound like a lot, but that’s just over a one cup serving. Cherry juice was also found to be very helpful, and doctors suggest drinking a glass (without added sugar) if you’re experiencing gout pain.
DON’T Eat: Red Meat
Pretty much all types of meat are going to be off the menu if you want to avoid gout, though there are certain types that aren’t as harmful. Red meat can cause gout flare-ups due to the high amount of saturated fats and purines that can cause more uric acid in the blood. Doctors suggest that avoiding all animal organs such as liver is the most important, as these can not only cause gout pain, but also give you gout if you haven’t been diagnosed with the disease before. Limiting yourself to just a few ounces of lean animal protein per day is the suggestion to avoid gout pain.
DO Eat: Low-Fat Dairy
Giving up meat is hard enough, but imagine if you had to give up dairy because of gout, as well. Thankfully you don’t have to, as long as you’re sticking to low-fat or nonfat dairy products. Dairy was at one point to be thought of as something that makes gout worse, but a more recent major study said that milk drinkers that stuck with skim milk decreased their gout symptoms. This also meant that low-fat yogurts and other forms of dairy would be helpful in preventing gout flare-ups, and uric acid levels decreased in just a couple of hours after eating this form of dairy.
DON’T Eat: Gravy
Most of us have eaten gravy, even if we don’t know the exact ingredients. Most brown gravy in the United States is made up of roasted meat or poultry, combined with vegetables and water. It makes for a tasty dressing for certain foods, but it’s something to avoid if you have gout. Because it’s made of the juices from meats, you’re almost extracting purines directly from animals to make gravy. Doctors have found that just about any other type of dressing or sauce is better for gout than gravy, as the high concentration is almost certain to lead to a painful flare-up.
DO Eat: Sweet Potatoes
Many of the vegetables that we eat on a regular basis are actually high in purines, but vegetables haven’t been linked to an increase in chances for gout or an increase in symptoms. Sweet potatoes are among the vegetables that are lowest in purines, and carry plenty of anti-inflammatory properties. By not adding to your uric acid levels while also decreasing the amount of inflammation in your body, sweet potatoes are among the most suggested vegetables. The general rule of thumb for gout sufferers is that orange vegetables (such as carrots) are the best for your diet.
DON’T Eat: Certain Seafoods
Overall, seafoods present a lot of great health benefits. Unfortunately for gout sufferers, many of the seafoods that we love aren’t going to see much of a benefit. Doctors suggest that you avoid seafoods such as trout, scallops, sardines, anchovies, mackerel and tuna if you want to prevent gout and the pain associated. That doesn’t mean that all of the seafoods you love aren’t available, though, as you can still eat a moderate amount of fish such as salmon, catfish, tilapia and tuna. As long as you aren’t frying these types of fish, you’ll see an overall benefit that includes reduced chances of gout.
DO Eat: Whole Grains
Whole grains make up a huge part of the daily suggested diet, with doctors saying that you should be getting around half of your calories from this category. By doing so, you increase your overall health and reduce chances of gout, as they’re low in purines and high in nutrients that reduce inflammation. Whole grains such as barley, millet, rye and buckwheat were found to be the best for preventing gout in the long run.
DON’T Eat: Asparagus
We mentioned earlier that many vegetables are high in purines, but ones such as sweet potatoes are still fine if you have gout. One vegetable that you should avoid, especially cooked, is asparagus. While not as high in purines when raw, you shouldn’t eat more than one serving of cooked asparagus at a time, as well as spinach. These vegetables have the highest concentration of purines, even if they are healthy for you overall.
DO Drink: Coffee
There have been some studies that showed that coffee can actually increase the chances of gout, but you actually lower your chances with the more coffee that you drink throughout the day. When not adding cream or sugar to your coffee, the study found that over more than 45,000 people that didn’t have gout reduced their chances of developing gout by around eight percent with one to three cups per day. For those that drank more than five cups per day, they were able to reduce their chances of gout by nearly 60 percent! Doctors suggest that you stick to drinking plenty of water to avoid gout, but just know that coffee isn’t off the table like some might think.
DON’T Drink: Beer
Avoiding alcohol should be at the top of your list if you suffer from gout, though you can have the occasional glass of wine or drink of liquor without having to worry. It’s when you have several beers at a time, though, that you’ll really experience problems. Beer has a massive amount of purines in each serving, and within a few hours can drastically increase the amount of purines in your body. One study showed that you increase your chances of gout by 50 percent if you have a daily beer, and it only gets worse the more you drink, with those that already have gout suffering from worse flare-ups when drinking.