Gout Diet Ideas
by Brad McHargue
Gout is a treatable form of arthritis that affects the joints without warning, leading to sudden and painful joint pain, redness and inflammation. It is caused by a build-up of urate crystals around the joints, itself an indicator of high levels of uric acid in the bloodstream. Although several methods of treatment exist, at-home treatment of gout includes little more than restricting certain foods known to exacerbate the symptoms of gout.
Uric acid is formed through the breakdown of purines, a naturally-occurring substance found in the human body and a variety of foods. Excess protein can thus cause high levels of uric acid and lead to gout. Avoiding foods high in protein serves as an important line of defense against gout and its associated symptoms.
Foods known to include high levels of purine include fish such as anchovies, mackerel and herring, as well as a number of "organ meats" such as the brain, kidneys, liver and sweetbreads (thymus and pancreas glands). In addition to these, limiting the amount of proteins found in animal meats is recommended, as they are known to contain small amounts of purine. Five to six ounces of lean protein are all that is recommended per day to avoid consuming too much animal-associated purine.
Taking all this into consideration, discussion with a physician and dietitian is recommended for the formulation of an adequate diet plan to help prevent and treat gout.
Abstinence from alcohol is recommended for the prevention of gout before and during flare-ups. The removal of uric acid is hindered through the consumption of alcohol, and as such should be avoided completely. A study published in the April 2004 edition of the British medical journal Lancet concluded that alcohol consumption can increase the risk of gout in men. Beer was shown to be a greater risk than hard liquor, while the moderate consumption of wine poses no risk at all (see Resource 2).
Instead of alcohol, drinking plenty of fluids, particularly water, aids in the removal of uric acid from the body. Soft drinks artificially sweetened with sugar or sugar alternatives are to be avoided as well. A study found in the February 2008 issue of the British Medical Journal found that soft drinks and fructose-rich juices contributed to an increased risk of gout in men. Diet soft drinks were not found to have any link to gout in men (see Resource 1).
Alternative Diet Treatment
Should medication or the aforementioned diet restrictions not help your gout pain or the frequency of gout attacks, a few diet additions have been proposed to help treat the condition. These include Vitmain C, cherries and coffee. A study published in the June 2007 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism suggests that coffee consumed over a relatively long stretch of time can lead to a decreased risk of gout (see Resource 3).