Until fairly recently, the association between diet and gout was speculative, with doctors realizing a correlation existed between people who ate “rich” diets and drank alcohol. However, the biochemistry of the disease was unknown until the 1960’s, when researchers discovered that diets high in purine triggered attacks of gout due to excessive levels of blood uric acid.
To reduce or eliminate attacks of gout and the resulting crippling pain, faithfully follow adiet for gout in addition to implementing other lifestyle changes. High uric acid levels causing disabling crystals to stiffen and swell joints is a condition easily controlled by diet and weight loss, which leads to a gout-free and healthier life.
What is Gout?
Gout is a form of arthritis usually affecting older individuals, predominantly male, who consume a high purine diet. Individuals suffering from gout experience severe pain, swelling, inflammation and stiffness mostly in finger and toe joints. Gout also occurs in elbows, knees and wrists but it is much more common in the hands and feet.
As a result of ignoring the diet for gout guidelines and filling the body with a disproportionate amount of high purine foods, individuals accumulate unhealthy amounts of uric acid in the blood, causing tiny, sharp crystals (monosodium urate crystals) to collect on joints and tendons. These crystals inflame and cripple joints, producing visible swelling and pain even when the joint is not in use. Initial attacks of gout generally last for three to ten days, with future attacks lasting longer if left untreated.
Certain individuals are at risk for suffering from gout, including those who are:
- Over 40 years of age and male
- Moderate to excessive drinkers of alcohol
- Have family members who suffer from gout
- Harbor an enzyme deficiency that inhibits purine breakdown
- Consume foods high in purine
When people begin following a diet for gout, pain and swelling generally abate within several weeks because uric acid blood levels fall dramatically. While gout does not develop into a serious disease if you follow a treatment plan that includes a low purine diet, it can leave permanent damage to joints of left untreated, creating lifelong attacks of pain, swelling and inability to move those joints affected.
Gout is easily diagnosed by a test involving extraction of fluid lying around the affected joint. Under a microscope, this fluid is checked for the presence of uric acid crystals.
What is Uric Acid?
A compound consisting of oxygen, carbon, nitrogen and hydrogen, uric acid emerges when purine nucleotides are broken down in the body and released into the bloodstream. We need a steady supply of purines to eliminate free radicals that attack and damage cells, one of the reasons why we live longer than many other mammals.
However, oversupplying the body with purines creates an unhealthy internal condition directly causing the formation of debilitating gout crystals. In addition, too much blood uric acid also creates kidney stones, which is why many people suffering from gout also suffer from kidney stones or weakened kidneys.
Other Reasons for High Purine Levels
- renal problems
- insulin resistance
- excessive consumption of alcohol
- use of diuretics
- experiencing an organ transplant
- Tumor Lysis Syndrome
- Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome
Tumor Lysis Syndrome is a condition complicating treatment of leukemia or lymphoma. When invaded by chemotherapy substances, cancer cells die and leave behind large amounts of uric acid as well as other chemicals that cause hyperkalemia and hypocalcemia.
Lesch-Nyhan syndrome is a rare genetic disorder causing deficient levels of HGPRT (hypoxanthine-guanine phosphoribosyltransferase) that allow uric acid to accumulate blood and other bodily fluids. People with Lesch-Nyhan always suffer from severe gout and kidney disease. However, observing a diet for gout significantly reduces severity of gout symptoms resulting from the presence of these diseases.
Hyperuricemia is also caused by a diet high in fructose, a fruit sugar found in fruits and vegetables. Small to moderate amounts of fructose is necessary to assist in metabolizing glucose, the body’s principle energy source, but too much and uric acid accumulates quickly in the body. This is because the liver is unable to process larger than normal levels of fructose into sugar quickly, instead producing fats from the excess fructose and overwhelming the blood stream with fat, resulting in hyperuricemia.
In a study published in 2008, the Arthritis Rheumatology Journal reports that consuming four or more sugary soft drinks each day significantly increased uric acid production, inhibiting fructose metabolism and initiating gout symptoms in some individuals who drink several sodas daily.
What is Purine?
Naturally found within the body, purine plays a vital role in the chemical arrangement of our genetic material. It is an amino acid contained in a variety of foods that happen to carry it in concentrated amounts, which facilitates overwhelming the blood with gout-causing uric acid. Cellular death results in the recycling of cells and the subsequent break down of genetic material. Metabolizing of purines produces uric acid, which is a normal and necessary aspect of chemical interactions within the body. In fact, uric acid functions as a beneficial antioxidant that protects blood vessel linings from impairment.
While we need a certain amount of uric acid to be present in the body, having too much generates crystal formation around joints and symptoms of gout. A gout diet can therefore significantly reduce the excess of purine in the blood.
Medical reasons for abnormal uric acid elevation in the blood include:
- Dysfunctional kidneys (organs responsible for filtering uric acid)
- Too rapid breakdown of cells or a high rate of cellular death
- High blood pressure
- Hemoglobin disorders
By treating any of these conditions and following a low purine diet for gout, individuals find the debilitating symptoms of gout receding due to a substantial decrease in monosodium urate crystals impinging on the joints. While the average adult diet contains around 600 to 1000 milligrams of purines, those who suffer from gout usually consume twice the amount of purines that they actually need.
Treatment for Gout
A treatment plan consisting of a diet for gout and rehabilitation exercises represents the best form of remedy available. In cases where gout has caused severe damage, however, treatment may also include cortisone shots and perhaps surgery. In addition, dietary guidelines for gout should involve all other aspects of the individual’s health condition, such as whether they suffer from diabetes, heart disease or other underlying issues.
Foods that are highest in purine are:
- Sardines (500 milligrams)
- Calf liver (800 milligrams—this includes all meat from animal organs)
- Mushrooms (500 milligrams)
- Baker’s yeast (680 milligrams)
- Pig’s heart (700 milligrams)
Foods containing moderately high levels (under 400 milligrams) of purine are:
- Soya beans
- Beef chuck
- Sirloin roast beef
- Chicken (breast with skin)
- Many kinds of fish (salmon, sole, trout, tuna)
- Pork chops
If you are suffering from gout, you should avoid these foods to allow a substantial reduction of purine metabolism to occur. In addition, alcoholic drinks contain purines, especially beer. Avoid them to prevent exacerbation of gout and weight gain while following a diet for gout.
Low Purine Diet for Gout
Results from a Canadian study published in the Journal of Arthritis Care and Research, June 2007 edition, indicated that participants who did not drink coffee experienced higher levels of uric acid (hyperuricemia) than subjects who drank between four and six cups of coffee each day. Regression analysis also concluded that other drinks containing caffeine, such as colas or teas, did not reduce uric levels like coffee consumption did in subjects. Therefore, coffee ingredients other than caffeine contributed to these reduced uric acid levels.
Foods considered to contain medium amounts of purine are:
- Oatmeal, oat products
- Fresh beans
- Foods made of whole grains
These foods have the lowest amount of purine:
- Eggs (up to four in one week)
- Low-fat dairy products
- peanut butter, nuts in general
- Pasta products
- Fruit juices
- Small amounts of fats, oils or syrups
Doctors recommend eating a diet for gout that contains 50% or more of carbohydrate-based calories. Gout sufferers can accomplish this by consuming six to ten servings of starchy foods daily (breads, potatoes, rice). In addition, you should supplement this gout cure with five servings of vegetables and fruits daily.
Since physiological chemistry differs among individuals, certain low purine foods may react more beneficially to some than to others. Once you begin following this gout diet, monitor your symptoms closely to determine whether specific foods work better to alleviate joint swelling and pain. You might try eating only five types of low purine foods for one week and another five different types the next to ascertain whether certain foods fight your gout better than others.
If you are overweight, losing that excess weight will reinforce the benefits of a low purine diet. However, dropping pounds too rapidly may increase blood uric levels, so approach a weight-loss diet sensibly.
Natural Remedies for Gout
In addition to replacing your old diet with a diet for gout, enhancing this diet with other natural remedies can lower uric acid amounts in the blood and reduce gout symptoms or eliminate gout altogether.
- Apple Cider Vinegar - Drinking a glass of water containing one tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar twice daily works to change body chemistry towards a more alkaline condition which reduces the number of crystals aggravating joints.
- Cherry juice - Drinking 100% cherry juice every day effectively decreases uric acid levels and alleviates gout inflammation due to antioxidant anthocyanins contained in cherries and cherry juice.
- Cod Liver Oil – Taking one teaspoon of cod liver oil each day supplies the body with good amounts of vitamin A which contributes to kidney health and efficient filtering of uric acid from the blood
- Devil’s claw - an herb containing an active ingredient called iridoid glycosides that seems to reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and gout inflammation. Individuals consume Devil’s Claw supplements in capsule form or making a tea from root powder.
- Celery Seeds - Cooking one tablespoon of celery seeds in two cups of water, then draining the seeds from the water once they soften and drinking 1/2 cup four times a day will reduce uric acid levels.
- Apples - contain malic acid, a substance capable of dissolving blood uric acid as well as alleviating fibromyalgia pain. In addition to your diet for gout, eat an apple after every meal to reduce gout symptoms.
- Lemon juice - Squeeze lemon juice into a glass of water (about half a lemon’s worth of juice) and drink this three times a day. Lemon contains vitamin C, which eradicates uric acid crystals that cling to joints and cause gout symptoms. Lemon juice also nourishes connective tissues facilitating joint movement and muscles strength.
Include vegetable or carrot juice in your diet for gout to treat your gout. A preparation containing cucumber, beetroot and carrot juice drank as a midday or afternoon snack effectively works to reduce pain and and swelling of gout. In addition, this beverage is extremely healthy and contributes to weight loss as well
Exposing toes and fingers to freezing temperatures may trigger an attack of gout if crystals are already infecting joints but have yet to produce symptoms. If you spend the majority of the day in cold conditions, especially if the fingers and toes are exposed, you can expect to suffer a gout attack the following day.
This is thought to be caused by temperature sensitive uric acid crystal when tend to harden in cooler weather. Making sure feet and hands remain warm and soaking affected joints in hot, but not scalding, water softens crystals and permits freer, less painful movement of the joints. Eating only foods included in the diet for gout also alleviate gout attacks precipitated by cold temperatures
Water is the best cleanser nature provides for both external and internal purposes. Drinking plenty of water effectively contributes to healthy kidney functioning and eliminating wastes from the body. Remaining even being slightly dehydrated may allow uric acid levels to rise and form crystals that threaten to concentrate at joint locations and cause gout flare-ups.
However, fluid needs are proportionate to your levels of activity and climate. The RDA (recommended daily allowance) for water is about eight glasses of water daily and slightly more for men engaged in moderate daily activity.
To reduce or eliminate attacks of gout and the resulting crippling pain, faithfully follow a diet for gout in addition to implementing other lifestyle changes. High uric acid levels causing disabling crystals to stiffen and swell joints is a condition easily controlled by diet and weight loss, which leads to a gout-free and healthier life.
Go to the top of this page,Diet for Gout
Also visit the other great pages on this site, High Purine Foods, Low Purine Diet and Symptoms of Gout – Why Low Purine Diet is Good for Gout Treatment
Choi JW, Ford ES, Gao X, Choi HK (January 2008). “Sugar-sweetened soft drinks, diet soft drinks, and serum uric acid level: the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey”. Arthritis Rheum. 59 (1): 109–16. doi:10.1002/art.23245