Gout is a type of arthritis that causes pain and swelling in the joints, particularly the big toe. Gout occurs when the level of uric acid in the blood is too high, forming uric acid crystals that deposit in the joints. Uric acid is a substance our body produces when it breaks down substances called purines. These purines are found in some foods we eat, particularly in red meat and processed foods.
In this article, we offer advice from dietitian-nutritionists to help you reduce risks and better manage your diet when dealing with this condition.
1. Foods to Avoid for Gout
Red meats and seafood
Red meats and seafood are high in purines. This means they can increase your uric acid level and promote the formation of uric acid crystals. Try to eat smaller portions of these foods. A small portion is about 75 g, or about the size of a deck of cards.
Organ meats like liver, heart, and kidneys are also high in purines. Avoid eating these foods if you have gout.
Alcoholic, sugary drinks, and high-fructose foods
Alcohol, particularly beer, can increase your uric acid level. It's best to avoid alcohol if you have gout. Sugary drinks, such as sodas and fruit juices, as well as high-fructose foods can also increase your uric acid level. These foods include high-fructose corn syrup, processed foods, and white bread, which often contain added sugar. Try to drink plenty of water instead and prefer whole and high-fiber foods to maintain a healthy uric acid level.
2. Foods to Favour for Gout
Plant protein sources, like beans, lentils, tofu, nuts, and seeds, contain purines. However, these purines do not seem to increase uric acid levels in the same way that purines from meats and seafood do. Moreover, these foods are high in fiber, which is beneficial for your overall health. You can therefore eat these foods without worry.
Vegetables and fruits
Vegetables and fruits are an important part of any healthy diet. They contain many nutrients and are low in purines. Try to include at least four servings of vegetables and three servings of fruits in your diet every day. Find out more about how to include them more in your diet here!
Low-fat dairy products
Low-fat dairy products are beneficial for maintaining your uric acid balance. Greek yogurt, in particular, is an exceptional source of protein. Consider a recipe with Greek yogurt for a low-purine breakfast. Don't forget to regularly include these foods in your daily meals.
3. The Importance of Hydration
Drinking enough water is a crucial part of managing gout. It's recommended to consume at least 2 liters of water per day. Proper hydration helps dilute uric acid in the blood and promotes its elimination by the kidneys. Moreover, water is a healthy alternative to sugary and fizzy drinks that can increase uric acid levels. Make water your drink of choice to help reduce the risk of gout attacks.
4. Get Personalized Advice
If you suffer from gout, it's important to pay attention to what you eat. By avoiding foods high in purines and choosing more foods that help reduce uric acid levels, you can reduce your symptoms and prevent gout attacks. Remember that everyone is different and what works for one person may not necessarily work for another. Don't hesitate to make an appointment with a dietitian for personalized dietary advice.