However, gout can also affect knees, elbows, ankles and rarely, the shoulders.
Gout causes swelling, stiffness and intense pain within the joints due to disproportionate amounts of blood uric acid. Tiny urate crystals develop due to extremely high levels of uric acid, damaging joints and inflaming and disabling movement of hands and feet.
Considered a prolonged and progressive disease, gout can also produce kidney stones leading to dysfunctional kidneys and increased impurities in the blood. If left untreated, gout will permanently weaken nerves and destroy affected joints.
Cause of Gout
The main cause of gout is the body’s inability to adequately process and filter out uric acid so that it does not accumulate in the blood.
Uric acid is the result of eating high purine foods and inefficient breakdown of purines, an amino acid-like substance necessary for healthy functioning of cells. Playing a vital role in the chemical architecture of genes, purines are found in a small number of foods but unfortunately, some of these foods contain high concentrations of purines.
When cells are recycled after dying, purines once contributing to the architecture of genetic material dissolve. The result of this chemical modification is uric acid. While we need a certain amount of uric acid in our bodies for optimal blood vessel functioning, too much of it culminates in the formation of uric acid crystals and gout symptoms.
Too Much Purine
Eating a diet high in purine rich foods will immediately exacerbate gout symptoms. In fact, gout is the result either of an inability to filter uric acid from the blood sufficiently or from simply having too much purine in the system because of a diet full of high purine foods.
“Hyperuricemia” is the medical term for excessive blood uric acid, while “asymptomatic hyperuricemia” is the term for those who have high uric acid but have yet to experience symptoms of gout. Considered a precursor to developing full-blown gout, “symptomatic hyperuricemia” can frequently be eliminated in its early stages by adopting a diet of low purine foods.
Foods to Avoid to Avoid Gout
Foods containing the highest amount of purines are:
- Animal hearts, kidneys, brains (cow, pig, sheep)
- Yeasty foods
All of these foods pack a walloping 1000 milligrams of purines for each 3.5 ounces. The estimate is that the average U.S. adult consumes around 500 to 1000 milligrams of purine each day. Doctors advise individuals suffering from gout to limit their daily intake of purines to no more than 150 milligrams.
Moderately high purine foods containing five to 50 milligrams of purine in each 3.5-ounce serving are:
- Kidney, navy and lima beans
Those who are on a doctor-prescribed diet consisting of low purine foods are generally able to eat one 3.5 ounce serving of any of the above foods each day without exceeding the limit suggested by your doctor.
When No Purines is a Must
However, if you have bouts of severe gout that border on permanently disabling your joints, you will need pain medication and to consume only foods containing no purine whatsoever.
In addition to avoiding high purine foods, gout sufferers should also engage in an exercise program to maintain a height-proportionate weight level. Obesity will directly contribute to an elevated uric acid blood level as well as put stress on an already overtaxed immune system.
Basic Tips Regarding Gout Foods
Alcohol consumption should be limited to one or two drinks per week, if any, because it can inhibit kidney functioning. Beer is especially detrimental to gout sufferers because of the high yeast content in most beers.
Moderation in Proteins and Fats
Those following a low purine diet should only eat a moderate amount of foods containing protein, as well as limit consumption of fatty foods. Diets that are high in protein facilitate the formation of amino acids in the blood, which removes uric acid from the kidneys and propels it back into the body, effectively elevating the blood uric acid count. Both protein and fats reinforce the development of uric acid crystals on joints as well.
Be sure to drink at least ten glasses of water daily to facilitate kidney function when processing and filtering uric acid from the body. Adequately hydrating the body also alleviates the discomfort of kidney stones as well.
Watch the Cholesterol
Limit cholesterol to less than 300 milligrams each day, or more, if possible.
Choose Weight Loss Methods Wisely
Be aware that if you do plan to lose weight while eating low purine foods, that too-rapid weight loss, or deciding to experiment with a low-carbohydrate diet may result in your body producing ketones, a substance known to increase the incidence of hyperuricemia.
Avoid Molybdenum Supplements
In addition to avoiding high purine foods, gout sufferers should also abstain from taking trace mineral supplements with molybdenum. Exceeding 15 milligrams of this mineral per day may exacerbate gout symptoms or cause a flare-up. You should also avoid taking large vitamin C doses, as this may contribute to uric acid accumulation.
Don’t Overdo Some Vitamins and Minerals
Niacin and iron in higher than normal amounts may also stimulate formation of uric acid crystals around vulnerable joints.
Low Purine Foods
Foods containing less than 100 grams of purine per 3.5 ounce serving are:
- Nuts (peanuts, walnuts, almonds, peanut butter)
- Low-fat or no-fat dairy products (milk, cheese, ice cream)
- Breads without yeast (white or wheat bread)
- Fruits (pineapples, apples, bananas, strawberries, grapes)
- Coffee and tea
- Eggs (3 or 4 per week)
- Non-green vegetables
Cherry Juice for Gout
One of the best fruits to eat when suffering from gout is cherries. Researchers have found that consuming about 250 grams of cherries each day lessens or eliminates gout attacks by reducing blood uric acid levels.
All berries that are dark red or blue contain flavonoids and anthocyanidins, beneficial antioxidants that enhance the collagen content of tendons and cartilages surrounding affected joints. As a natural healing element, antioxidants also inhibit the manufacturing of prostaglandins, histamines and leukotrienes, all chemicals contributing to the intense pain of gout.
Drinking cherry juice is just as beneficial to gout sufferers as eating cherries. If you find it hard to drink so many glasses of water each day, substitute cherry juice for two or three glasses of water instead. In addition, black cherry juice also alleviates gout symptoms as well as regular cherry juice made from Bing cherries.
Yummy Cherry Smoothie
For variety while adhering to a diet that avoids high purine foods, you can make a cherry juice smoothie with plain yogurt and low-fat milk. Just blend cherries, yogurt or ice cream and low-fat milk in a mixer and whip until well blended. As long as cherries or cherry juice is used in any kind of recipe and consumed, gout swelling and pain will improve.
If for some reason cherries are not available or you do not like cherries, taking a supplement of quercetin will ease gout symptoms as well. Quercetin mimics the actions of the Allopurinol, a prescribed medication treating hyperuricemia. As a phytochemical antioxident, Quercetin is also found in foods containing red pigments such as apple, (red) onion or grape skins.
High Purine Foods Containing High Fructose Corn Syrup
As a sugar compound found in vegetables, fruit and honey, fructose by itself is not unhealthy or conducive to gout. However, when it is has been processed and altered to assume an additive-type ingredient in certain foods (especially high purine foods) it then becomes problematic to gout sufferers.
High fructose corn syrup is found in non-diet sodas, enriched juices, sugary breakfast cereals, candy and bakery items. As an additive meant for taste and preservation purposes, high fructose corn syrup is associated with potential weight-gain issues, diabetes and heart disease due to its high “empty calorie” content. For these reasons, a gout sufferer may experience worsening symptoms of gout if they eat too many foods containing high fructose corn syrup as well as foods high in uric acid.
Another Reason to Avoid Soft Drinks
A study published in the February 2008 edition of the British Medical Journal found that drinking non-diet soft drinks is strongly correlated with an increased risk in experiencing gout attacks. This research found men who drank two or more soft drinks each day carried an 85% higher risk of developing gout that men who drank less than one soda a month. In addition, a statistically significant risk appeared when men drank at five or six sodas each week.
Meals to Prepare When Avoiding Gout Foods
Changing the way you eat, especially if you have been eating the same diet for years, can be difficult and confusing. However, avoiding high purine foods does not mean you have to stick to a basic, boring diet. Here are some sample recipes to make to add variety and alleviate gout symptoms:
Vermicelli and Rice
You will need:
- · 1/2 cup of vermicelli broken into small pieces
- · 1 cup of rice
- · 2 1/2 cups boiling water
- · 4 tablespoons of butter
- · 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper
- · 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- · Salt (optional)
Serve this recipe with vegetable dishes such as beans or peas and onions. Saute the vermicelli in melted butter, and add rice. Stir well after adding pepper, boiling water and salt if desired. Boil then cook over medium heat for 15 minutes. Leave the dish to cool with the lid on the pot for an additional 20 minutes. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve.
Cheese Pasta Recipe
- · 4 cups of cooked pasta(noodles, shells)
- · 4 tablespoons of butter
- · 1/4 pounds of thinly sliced cheddar cheese
- · 1 large finely chopped onion
- · 1 1/2 cups of low fat milk
- · Salt and pepper
Melt butter in a frying pan and saute onions over medium heat. Add macaroni, milk, salt and pepper, stirring well. Pour into a greased casserole dish and lay cheese slices on top. Bake with lid on the pan for 40 minutes. Remove when cheese is light brown.
Macaroni and Tomato Salad
- · 4 medium tomatoes cut into small cubes
- · 3 cups of cooked macaroni
- · 2 minced garlic cloves
- · 1/2 cup chopped basil leaves
- · 4 tablespoons of olive oil
- · 2 tablespoons of vinegar
- · Salt and pepper
Mix macaroni, tomatoes and basil leaves together in a large mixing bowl. Blend other ingredients in a separate bowl. Than add tomato and macaroni to this mixture and toss like a salad. Refrigerate for 20 minutes before serving.
All three of these recipes are just a few of the many delicious alternatives to high purine foods.
Other Possible Causes of Gout
While eating purine rich foods is one of the principle causes of gout, other conditions may contribute to the severity and incidence rate of gout attacks. As a genetic metabolic disorder, gout is provoked when something forces uric acid levels to rise in the body.
These possible causes in addition to a high purine diet may include:
- · Food allergies
- · Chronic stress
- · Surgery
- · Moderate to severe injuries to the body
- · Antibiotic use
- · Deficiencies in vitamins A, E and B5
- · Chemotherapy
- · Hypothyroidism
- · Sudden decrease in barometric pressure (bad weather)
- · Presence of leukemia or psoriasis
- · Medications
Diuretics May Contribute to Gout
People who use diuretics for water weight gain, insulin problems or heart disease may experience an increase in uric acid levels. Losing large amounts of water reduces the amount of potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium in the body, all key components contributing to healthy joints capable of resisting uric crystal formation.
Forget Crash Dieting – Diet Healthy
Crash dieting is definitely contributory to exacerbation of gout symptoms because fasting increases lactic acid levels, a similar condition seen in a diet of high purine foods. Lactic acid inhibits uric acid release by the kidneys, causing rapid accumulation of blood uric acid and inevitable crystal formation on joints. In addition, extreme dieting also facilitates potassium decrease as well, another factor in the development of high uric acid levels.
Another possible, but rare cause of gout is Lesch-Nyhan syndrome, a genetic disorder affecting the body’s ability to break down purines effectively. A particular enzyme deficiency is responsible for this disease, which affects approximately one in almost 400,000 births. Individuals suffering from Lesch-Nyhan syndrome suffer from both hyperuricosuria and hyperuricemia, extreme accumulations of uric acid that cause kidney issues and severe gout.
Evidence of this disorder generally occurs within the first 12 months of a child’s life. Symptoms generally respond positively to medication and a low purine diet.
Gout was once a crippling, intensely painful disease suffered by many who did not know the cause of their disease. Today, we know what foods cause gout and that a diet consisting of high purine foods directly evokes the swelling, severe ache, inflammation and joint inflexibility of gout. By avoiding foods that cause gout and eating only low purine foods, gout sufferers can enjoy a pain-free, more flexible and healthier existence.
Go to the top of this page,
High Purine Foods
Also visit the other great pages at this site, Low Purine Diet, Symptoms of Gout – Why Low Purine Diet is good for Gout Treatment and Diet for Gout – Low Purine Diet.