Gout is an extremely painful form of arthritis caused by crystallized uric acid accumulating in the joints. The good news however, is that diet and lifestyle changes can help!
By following the guidelines of a healthy low uric acid diet, you can reduce the uric acid in your body and help manage your symptoms.
These guidelines help you to eat a whole food, largely plant-based diet, while reducing your exposure to purines and trigger foods. A low uric acid diet can also be a very healthy diet when done correctly.
Maintaining healthy eating habits can help with weight management, blood sugar balance and overall improvements in mood and energy.
Research has shown that being overweight is a risk factor for gout1, making healthy weight management an important consideration.
Reducing your purine intake is the most important dietary change you can make when it comes to suffering from gout.
Purines are the compounds in food that break down into uric acid in the body. This is important because crystallized uric acid is the culprit behind the joint pain that comes with gout.
Different foods have different levels of purines. Typically, animal proteins are high in purines, while fruits and vegetables are generally low in purines, with some exceptions2.
To help manage symptoms of gout, and prevent attacks, the goal is to reduce the overall level of uric acid throughout the body. A low purine diet reduces the your exposure to foods that can increase your uric acids levels3.
Avoid – High Purine Foods
Reduce or Limit – Moderate Purine Foods
Be it soft drinks, desserts, sauces or cereals, sugar is in almost everything. It’s no wonder that our sugar intake has exponentially increased over the years.
While sugar has a pretty long rap sheet already, contributing to everything from diabetes, metabolic disorders and the growing obesity crisis, it can also negatively impact gout.
A form of sugar known as fructose breaks down in the body to produce uric acid as a by-product of metabolism. This means more uric acid in your body to contribute to elevated levels4.
Fructose is commonly found in foods labelled as glucose-fructose syrup, which can often mean corn syrup.
Fruit is also a source of fructose, but it doesn’t quite fall into the same category of health risk. Eating a whole fruit is different than what you would be exposed to when you ingest fructose in the form of a sweetener. A whole fruit provides vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants that help to offset the negative effects that fructose can have, making it a healthy option.
While, we don’t mean to ruin your fun, avoiding alcohol is definitely an important one.
Alcohol, especially beer, is high in purines, but its impact on uric acid levels goes beyond that.
What makes alcohol so particularly bad in cases of gout is that beyond its own purine content, it stimulates your liver to produce uric acid. To make matters worse, alcohol also reduces your kidney’s abilities to eliminate uric acid5. So you essentially get two sources of uric acid production, plus a roadblock to its elimination.
Alcohol can often be a factor in acute gout attacks which can create intense and debilitating pain lasting from a few days to over a week.
Now that you know which foods to avoid for gout, let’s get into what you should be eating to maintain a low uric acid diet.
Fruits and vegetables are incredibly healthy for obvious reasons. They’re a great source of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. But what makes a diet rich in fruits and vegetables so great for gout, is that it’s also generally low in purines.
One fruit in particular that’s great for gout is cherries. Cherries have been shown in studies to effectively help lower uric acid levels in the body6. This is great news, since lowering uric acid levels can help manage symptoms, and prevent an acute gout attack.
Eating plenty of starchy complex carbohydrates can help to satisfy your hunger, while providing a healthy dose of fiber. Fiber is important for weight management and maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Some small studies have also shown a reduced risk of hyperuricemia, and gout with a higher fiber intake8.
Try starchy foods like brown rice, barley, potato or pumpkin.
When it comes to consuming protein on a low uric acid diet, the types and portions are most important. Typically, we need about one gram of protein per kilogram of body weight for muscle repair, blood sugar control and energy.
Since animal proteins contain higher amounts of purines, it’s important to ensure you’re not eating meat in excess. While beans and legumes are still moderate level sources of purines, some research suggests that plant-based forms of purines are less likely to contribute to gout7.
Getting your protein from plant-based sources or a combination of animal and plant-based sources, can help reduce the burden of uric acid that would otherwise be a result of eating high purine meats.
Try getting protein from sources such as eggs, nuts, seeds, dairy, and beans or legumes. Vegetables, such as kale, broccoli and peas are also good plant-based sources of protein.
Try reducing saturated fats, and incorporating healthy fats in your diet. Essential fatty acids, (Omega-3 and Omega-6) can help to manage joint pain by reducing inflammation and pain.
You’ll find healthy fats in foods like nuts, seeds and certain types of fish. Choose your seafood carefully as it can be high in purines. Smaller fish such as anchovies and sardines tend to be highest in purines, while fish like salmon or cod have moderate levels of purines. Chia seeds and flax seeds are great plant-based sources of essential fatty acids to help with inflammation.
Water is essential for dealing with gout, because it helps to promote the elimination of uric acid. By eliminating uric acid at the body, you can help to manage symptoms of gout. In fact, studies actually showed that subjects who drank an increased amount of water reduce their risk of acute gout attacks6.
Diet can make a huge difference when it comes to management symptoms of gout. Give these simple guidelines a try!