Gout is a painful complication that affects 1-2% of the North American population. Although gout can eventually go away on its own, the process sometimes takes years. Gout attacks usually last a week, and the majority of sufferers experience several attacks per year.
Left untreated, gout can pose a risk for diabetes and heart disease, and chronic gout can even cause kidney stones. Gout is caused by the accumulation of uric acid in the blood, which subsequently lodges in the joints; in half of all cases, the big toe is affected, which is also known as foot gout or podagra.
The symptoms of a gout attack can be controlled using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and other medications. However, for general prevention of attacks, attention must be paid to diet, as a number of foods can trigger a gout attack. Recent studies have found that many vegetables thought to trigger attacks actually lower the risk of attacks. These include beans, peas and leafy greens.
Here are ten foods that often trigger gout. To keep your gout in check, try to avoid these, or eat them in small amounts.
If you suffer from gout attacks, you may want to steer clear of fish with high purine content. Small amounts of purine in the diet are usually harmless, but larger amounts will cause gout. Fish with high purine content include herring, sardines, carp, cod, haddock, salmon, trout, tuna and anchovies. Small amounts of these do not trigger an attack, but a lot of purine-rich fish on the menu increases the risk.
Alcohol consumption is one of the main causes of a painful gout attack. Studies have shown that beer in particular is dangerous. One study examined 47,000 men who regularly reached for a mug of beer over a twelve-year period and concluded that two percent of them developed gout. Those who consumed more alcohol had a greatly increased risk of gout. Beer, which is high in purine, can increase the likelihood of gout disease by 50 percent from as little as one glass a day. In addition, wine and high-proof alcoholic beverages should be avoided.
Caffeine has a diuretic effect, which means it withdraws water from the body. This can be dangerous for gout sufferers because uric acid, which is usually distributed in the blood, can become lodged in the joints if dehydrated. A cup of coffee a day does no harm, but larger amounts in short periods of time can trigger a gout attack.
Purines tend to accumulate in animal organs, making them strong triggers of gout. Stay away from liver, heart, lungs, and spleen when eating meaty foods. Calf’s liver is the most purine-rich organ in this regard, averaging 460 mg. Animal meat is also generally rich in purines, only chicken meat with its moderate purine level allows regular consumption.
5. Fried food
Highly fatty foods can trigger a gout attack, which is why fried food should be avoided. It has been shown that people with a higher body mass index have an increased risk of developing gout. Thereby, fried foods can not only trigger an attack, but even cause chronic gout. Therefore, stay away from food that has been deep-fried in oil, as well as foods that can be baked on. The latter can have numerous oils added to them that increase the crunchiness factor.
Beef is one of the highest quality whole foods that contains large amounts of purine. While these substances are found in moderate to high amounts throughout the animal, the neck, loin, and rib areas, as well as roast beef, which is popular in many places, have the highest purine levels. Beef is also high in fat, which can also trigger a gout attack. Other types of red meat such as lamb and pork also have very high purine levels, but general avoidance of them is not necessary; on the contrary, it can even be beneficial to health.
7. Soft drinks
Soft drinks and similar beverages are dangerous for people at risk for gout. Studies have shown that there is a link between gout attacks and fructose-sweetened drinks. The increasing number of gout cases in recent decades correlates with the increasing consumption of soft drinks. In this context, the risk of gout has increased from 16 per 100,000 cases in 1977 to 42 per 100,000. Popular soft drinks also contain caffeine, which further increases the likelihood of a gout attack. The caffeine has a dehydrating effect, which can result in the crystallization of uric acid in the joints and the accompanying gout attack.
8. Heavy Sauces
Gout was once called a rich man’s disease and it can definitely be caused by rich sauces. Most sauces and dressings contain a lot of fat and thus pose a gout risk. The fact that they are mostly served with meat also doubles the risk. Sauces to avoid include light and dark gravy, Béarnaise sauce, Béchamel sauce and Hollandaise sauce.
In areas that live on fishing, cases of gout are much more prevalent. The cause may be the increased consumption of shellfish, which contain moderate amounts of purine and, if consumed regularly, can overload the body and provoke an attack of gout. Shellfish with high purine content include lobster, mussels and crabs. Considering that fish is also high in purine, it is important to maintain a balanced diet that does not contain too much fish and seafood.
10. Fruit juices
Fruits are so healthy that it is hard to see them as a risk for gout. Fruit juices have natural and artificial fructose levels. Eating whole fruit is fine because the fiber limits the release of the sugar. Fruit juices, on the other hand, are like pure sugar water, and studies have shown that women who consumed high fructose liquids developed a 74 percent higher risk of gout. Drinks rich in fructose can raise uric acid levels – stay away from orange juice in particular, as it carries a particularly high risk of gout.
These foods are suitable for gout in moderation
Flour, bread, grains & side dishes
Bircher muesli, buckwheat, spelled flakes, green kernels, oat flakes, millet (flakes), crispbread, (multigrain) muesli without added sugar, whole grain toast, whole grain rice (natural rice) and parboiled rice
Nuts, kernels & seeds
Eggs, milk & dairy products
Meat & sausage products
Fish & Seafood
Fats & Oils
Herbs, spices & seasonings
Sweet & salty snacks
Good Gout Foods
For both prevention and treatment, a diet low in purines is the method of choice for gout, because the more a food contains, the more uric acid accumulates in the body when it is converted. You should give your body a maximum of 500 milligrams of uric acid per day . With these foods everything stays in the green and you know what you can eat if you have gout.
Even if drinks are not food, water is immensely important for gout patients. Unless your doctor advises against it, drink at least two liters of water every day to facilitate the excretion of uric acid . In addition to water, infused water , unsweetened fruit and herbal teas are also suitable. The infusion of nettles has a diuretic effect.
2. Dairy products
While you should exercise restraint when it comes to meat and fish, you can go for milk, yoghurt or cheese. Dairy products are low in purines and provide a lot of protein , which stimulates uric acid excretion via the kidneys. The effect comes about due to the proteins it contains, casein and lactalbumin. Important: Prefer the low-fat version to avoid obesity .
In doses of 500 milligrams or more per day , vitamin C can promote uric acid excretion via the kidneys; Although peppers don’t provide quite as much, the vegetables still make a valuable contribution! The pods also provide many minerals, fiber and secondary plant substances . It’s not just peppers that are a great choice: from eggplant to zucchini, almost all types of vegetables are allowed
For a long time, gout patients were advised against coffee. However, it has now been shown that this is not necessary, on the contrary: coffee can lower uric acid levels. Studies suggest that chlorogenic acid is responsible for the effect. And how much can it be? Three to four cups of coffee (also decaffeinated) is the golden mean here and rounds off the gout diet ( 3 ) .
5. Sour cherry
One type of fruit that can help with gout is tart cherries. In several studies, the consumption of tart cherries or tart cherry juice was able to increase the excretion of uric acid and thereby reduce the uric acid level 1.) – 3.) . This effect appears to be at least partly based on the inhibition of enzymes of purine metabolism 4.) . This could even reduce the frequency of gout attacks 5.) .