Gout patients can reduce its severity and symptoms by avoiding certain foods. It is a type of arthritis that’s painful and mainly occurs when excess uric acid in your blood leads to the formation and accumulation of sharp crystals in your joints. Gout affects several joints including your knee, elbow, ankle, and wrist. Overweight people and those who drink too much alcohol are at a higher risk of getting gout. You can also get it if you have a family history of gout or you have blood pressure, diabetes or a heart condition.
How Food Affects Gout
Purine is a chemical that is found naturally in your body and in some foods. When your body breaks down purine, it produces a waste product called uric acid. In healthy people, uric acid is efficiently removed from the body and doesn’t cause any harm. However, people with gout aren’t able to efficiently flush out the uric acid. Now, when you eat purine-rich foods, the amount of uric acid in your body becomes excess, thus causing gout attacks.
Foods that Trigger Gout
By being choosy on the type of food you eat, you can reduce the frequency of gout attacks. While gout diet foods may not treat gout, the symptoms will be less severe. The following foods contain moderate to high-purine levels.
Avoid organ meat such as liver, kidneys, brain, and sweetbread. Likewise, other meat such as bacon, turkey, venison, and veal should stay out of your diet. These types of meat contain purine compounds which are responsible for the production of excess uric acid by your body. The solution: If you love meat, stick to other healthier options such as duck and chicken. However, you can eat lamb, pork and other red meat in moderation if they don’t cause flare-ups.
Some Types of Seafood
Gout patients should avoid specific seafood which contains high purine levels and could exacerbate your condition. Research shows that seafood including some shellfish such as crabs and lobsters, anchovies, roe, tuna, trout, herring, and sardines can trigger gout attacks and should be avoided. The Solution: Most fish are actually safe for people with gout due to the health benefits to the body. Incorporating fish into your gout diet outweighs the risks.
All types of alcoholic beverages have high purine content and gout patients are advised to avoid them. Patients are especially discouraged from taking beer since it increases uric acid levels and limits the body’s ability to excrete it. Experts recommend that you limit or stop taking alcohol in between gout attacks to avoid aggravating the matter. The solution: Wine doesn’t appear to have a huge impact on gout symptoms making it safe for consumption. Nevertheless, if possible, keeping any form of alcohol out of your bloodstream is highly encouraged.
Sugary Beverages and Foods
High fructose foods and drinks are known to raise purine in your body and hence, excess uric acid. Naturally sweet fruit juices, soda and other soft drinks, high-fructose corn syrup, agave nectar and other sugary beverages need to be avoided. The same goes for sugary foods like cereals, candies, and snacks which should not count as part of your gout diet. Experts also advise you to limit your intake of processed foods such as white rice, white bread, and pasta. The solution: Opt for healthier sugar-free cereals, foods with complex carbohydrates such as whole grain bread, oatmeal, and brown rice. It’s also advisable to eat plenty of vegetables, even those that contain high-purine levels such as asparagus and spinach because your body can easily excrete purine from vegetables than from meat.
Coffee and other drinks with caffeine should be taken in moderation. Excessive caffeine can be a risk factor in patients with gout. Studies on how caffeine affects gout are mixed with some suggesting that caffeine can actually prevent gout pain. On the other hand, other studies found that caffeine intake can trigger gout attacks. The Solution: Since there is no conclusive research if caffeine is bad or good for gout patients, the best option is to limit the consumption of caffeinated drinks.
How to Effectively Manage Gout
Planning your gout diet can be tricky considering that different foods affect people differently. For instance, you might find that eating moderate red meat doesn’t affect you while another individual will have severe symptoms with just a small portion. Talk to your nutritionist or doctor to help you find the right diet. A good scenario would be to keep a food diary, where you record specific food triggers that cause gout flare-ups. If you’re overweight, it’s ideal to lose weight gradually rather than abruptly, to avoid triggering an attack. Keep in mind that a gout diet can’t lower uric acid levels in your body without the recommended medication. However, it decreases the chances of experiencing frequent gout attacks. Overall, include regular exercise in your lifestyle to stay fit and manage gout.
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