Gout is often referred to as the 'old man's' disease, as it is eight times more prevalent in men than women, and its prevalence increases with age. The ailment is a complex form of arthritis, and causes sudden, severe pain, redness and tenderness in joints. Frequently affected is the joint at the base of the big toe. The pain of gout attacks are often described as acute, and can wake one with a jolt. It is caused by sharp, needle like urate crystals which accumulate around the joint, and cause inflammation, swelling and intense pain. Urate crystals form due to high levels of uric acid in the blood.
Uric acid is a by-product of the process of the breaking down of purines, which are substances found naturally in the body, as well as in certain foods. As it is usually present in the body, it (uric acid) dissolves in one's blood and passes through the kidneys into the urine. However, at times either too much uric acid is produced, or the kidneys excrete too little uric acid. This is when it can build up and form into crystals. While gout can be effectively treated with gout medication, what can also help is following a gout diet. Foods to eat would obviously be those that have a low content of purines.
Foods to Avoid in a Gout Diet
It goes without saying that, one must strictly avoid foods rich in purines. Some of the purine rich foods that are to be avoided with gout are as follows:
- Organ meats (liver, kidney, brain)
- Grouse, mutton, veal, bacon
- Salmon, trout, scallops
- Turkey, goose, pheasant
- Alcohol (not a food, but to be avoided nonetheless).
An ideal gout diet, is a balanced one. All recommendations place great emphasis on a balanced diet comprising fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free or low-fat milk products. When on a gout diet, foods to eat (in MODERATE quantities) include:
- Foods high in vitamin C, which include red cabbage, tangerines, red bell peppers, potatoes, mandarins and oranges. The reason behind this is that vitamin C may reduce the levels of uric acid in your blood. However, too much of vitamin C may increase your body's uric acid levels. Hence, consume it in its natural form and in moderate quantities.
- Cherries have also been associated with lower levels of uric acid, so one may include cherries, blackberries, blueberries, purple grapes and raspberries (dark-colored fruits) to their diet, in moderate amounts.
- Safe foods to eat with gout include vegetables such as kale, cabbage, parsley and green-leafy vegetables in your diet. Vegetables that are moderately high in purines are asparagus, cauliflower, mushrooms, peas, spinach, kidney and lima beans.
- Include complex carbohydrates such as whole grain breads, cereals and pasta in your diet.
- There is a possibility that low-fat dairy products may actually have a protective effect against gout, so try to make them your primary sources of protein.
- Keep your daily consumption of lean meat, fish and poultry to 4 to 6 ounces (114 to 170 grams).
In addition to the foods you can eat with gout, try to keep these guidelines, by the American Medical Association for people with gout, in mind. One must eat:
- Foods low in protein (15% of calories and sources should be soy, lean meats, or poultry).
- High in complex carbohydrates (fiber-rich whole grains, fruits, and vegetables).
- No more than 30% of calories in fat (with only 10% animal fats).
Another strongly made dietary recommendation is to have a daily intake of at least 8 to 16 cups of water, which measures up to about 2 to 4 liters of fluid each day, half of which must be water. However, ensure that none of it is alcohol, as recent evidence suggests that beer may be particularly likely to increase the risk of gout symptoms, especially in men. The reason why even the gout diet foods to eat, must be consumed in moderation is because maintaining a healthy body weight is very important. Healthy weight loss may decrease uric acid levels in your body.