Gout Fast Facts
- Gout, or metabolic arthritis, is an extremely painful form of arthritis that affects the joints.
- Gout is caused by a buildup of uric acid in the blood.
- Uric acid is a byproduct of purines, which are in the food we eat and in our cells. When the body breaks down food, purines are released.
- Normally, the kidneys filter out uric acid and eliminate it in the urine.
- When uric acid becomes concentrated in the blood, it forms crystals. These crystals can deposit in the joints, causing pain, swelling, and redness.
Foods that are high in purines can exacerbate gout. The most common purine-rich foods:
- Alcohol: Especially beer and wine
- Red meat: Beef, Game meat, Bouillon and meat extracts, & Gravy.
- Organ meats: Liver, Kidneys, Brains, & Sweetbreads
- Oily fish: Herring, Anchovies, Mackerel, & Sardines
- Certain vegetables: Asparagus, Cauliflower, Spinach, Mushrooms, & Green peas
- Legumes: Beans, Lentils, & Dried peas
- Oatmeal, wheat bran, & wheat germ
If you have gout, these foods should be avoided or used in moderation. While there are many foods that have been shown to contribute to gout, there are also many foods that have been shown to be very beneficial to gout sufferers:
- Low-fat dairy products
- Fresh fruits: Cherries, Strawberries, Blueberries, Tomatoes, Tangerines, Oranges, Pineapple, Bananas, & Fruit juices
- Certain vegetables: Celery, Red bell peppers, Potatoes, Kale, Cabbage, Parsley, & Other green leafy vegetables not high in purines
- Complex carbohydrates: Breads, Cereals, Pasta, & Rice
- Coffee and tea
- Carbonated beverages
- Tofu, although made from soybeans and therefore a legume, has fewer purines than red meat and thus makes a good meat substitute.
- Foods containing essential fatty acids: Tuna and salmon in moderation, Flaxseed, Nuts, & Other seeds
All foods with protein have some purines. You should not completely eliminate all purines from your diet. A good diet for gout sufferers has the following characteristics:
- Lots of complex carbohydrates (main sources: whole-grains, fruits, vegetables)
- Only 15% of calories from protein (sources of protein should be soy products, lean meats, and poultry, which are lower in purines than red meat)
- Less than 30% of calories from fat
- 10% of calories or less should come from animal fats
In addition to diet, there are other things you should do to reduce your gout symptoms. Be sure to:
- Stay hydrated
- Get enough exercise
- Maintain a healthy weight
If you have taken these measures and your gout is still bothersome, talk to your health practitioner.