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Foods to Avoid with Gout

Jason Hughes
Published by Jason Hughes
Fact checked by Markus Oliver, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: June 28, 2022

A healthy lifestyle may seem difficult at first, but once you start reaping the benefits, the struggle becomes worth it. Gout is a condition that is largely treatable, and even preventable with a great diet and a sustainable amount of exercise. While gout is mostly connected with those that are older in age, gout can affect anyone, and at any time. There are various other conditions that affect your ability to develop, or worse, gout can affect things such as bone and joint issues or blood flow issues. In fact, gout can even affect your bones in turn - which can lead to a form of osteoporosis or arthritis if left untreated.

The good news is that not only can gout be treated if caught early (which the symptoms usually indicate), but it can also largely be fixed at home with certain dietary remedies. In this article, we will first define what gout is and how it can be treated with your diet and exercise. We will also provide a cautionary list to avoid eating while you are suffering from gout.

What is Gout?

Gout is not necessarily an affliction that can be localized, it is the general term for an excessive buildup of uric acid inside the body. Due to gravity and blood circulation conditions, this usually affects the feet and legs more than any other area, but can also affect the hands, arms, and in extreme cases, can also affect the upper body (although this may be extremely rare. Uric acid is formed when certain compounds named purines break down inside the body.

Purines can be found mostly in red meat, organ meat, seafood, and voluminous consumption of beans. This means that a vegan diet can mostly eliminate the chances of contracting gout from your eating habits.

The most common symptoms of gout include swelling and pain where the uric acid has built up. For example, you will feel an intense and sudden pain within the joints of your toes, most commonly around the big toe or the bunion. This is called a "gout attack" and can feel like your foot and nerves are on fire or being electrified. Normally, the pain is extremely difficult to endure, but goes away after a few seconds, especially if you take pressure off the affected area.

List of Foods To Avoid With Gout

Red Meat: Red meat is extremely high in purines and the body breaks it down with more difficulty than other foods. This can not only cause an increase in uric acid but can also be detrimental to your gastrointestinal health as well as blood circulation. Avoiding red meat over the years is a common recommendation from dieticians and clinicians alike, as red meat can cause more harm than it provides - especially at older ages. This sometimes may not seem like a problem for those that lead extremely active lifestyles, as their metabolic burn can break down all necessary foods and amino acids in order to avoid the buildup of certain problems such as uric acid.

Organ Meat: Organ meats are usually offered at a discounted rate from the grocery store for a reason. They are not only less popular because of their appearance and availability, but because our bodies have adapted to cooked foods. Organs, in general, are extremely difficult to cook, meaning they contain many fibers and purines within them that are extremely difficult to digest within our body. This can not only lead to gout but other issues that are present with less fiber in your life, such as constipation and problems with your large/small intestines.

(Some) Seafood: While certain crustaceans are fine, those that are extremely fatty and "meaty" in their texture can contain many purines - which may be a direct cause of elevated uric levels within the body and blood. While some seafood is fine, eating a vegan diet can completely eliminate the risk.

Excessive Alcohol Consumption: In general, alcohol is never a good idea for any illness that you're suffering from throughout the body. It weakens the immune system and lowers your reaction and mood over time, which opens you up to more infections and other ways that exacerbate the chances of worsening your current (and future) illnesses. In this particular case, alcohol and rising sugar levels contain purines, but they also slow down the way that your body can eliminate uric acid and toxins throughout the body as they occupy the workload of your liver.

Best Diet for Gout

There is no set diet for gout. However, increasing the consumption of foods that are known for eliminating toxins and uric acid buildup throughout the body is a great way to reduce the chance of gout attacks occurring or curing the one you may already have. You can also eliminate the foods we have listed above for the best combination of results. Foods that are great for eliminating uric acid include:

Teas

  • Nettle
  • Dandelion
  • Milk Thistle

Finally, a multivitamin or supplement that contains magnesium has proven to reduce toxins within the body.

FAQs

Can gout be cured?

Gout directly cannot be cured, so caution should be taken to prevent it. If you do have gout, doctors will aim to reduce the amount of uric acid, crystals, or buildup within the blood to avoid flare-ups. If the amount of uric acid is reduced within the blood to extremely low levels, you may never experience another attack. If the problem persists and advances to a less manageable level, surgery can be an option.

What are some remedies for gout?

Gout can be managed with certain medications, but the best way to avoid gout attacks is through diet, exercise and overall reducing your risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease. 

What can be done during a gout attack?

Prescribed blood thinners can reduce the chance of a gout attack. When you are in the middle of a flare-up, the best thing to do is to let it pass. Take the pressure off the affected area and rest, and apply ice as soon as possible to reduce swelling and pain.


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