If you’re suffering from gout, you may be able to avoid those painful flare-ups with a few simple diet changes
You’re probably aware that gout is something you can get when you eat too many rich foods. (Think Victorian gentlemen enjoying fine cheese and port.)
In fact, it’s a form of inflammatory arthritis, triggered by high blood levels of uric acid – this crystallises in the body’s joints, causing swelling and pain anywhere from your fingers to toes.
And yes, if you’ve developed gout, tweaking your diet may help your symptoms.
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What not to eat
Wondering what causes gout attacks? Foods that are high in purines are high on this list. These are chemical substances in certain foods that are broken down into uric acid inside the body. According to the UK Gout Society, a purine-rich diet can trigger a five-fold increase in gout attacks.1
Foods high in purine include:2
- yeast extract
- oily fish, like trout and sardines
- seafood, especially crab, mussels and prawns
- fatty meats, such as liver and game
A 2004 study of 47,000 men, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, found a higher risk of developing gout if you ate a lot of meat and seafood.3
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And what to cut back on
These foods have a medium purine content, so should be eaten in moderation:4
- legumes, like kidney beans and soy beans
- mycoprotein, including Quorn
- wholegrains, such as oats, bran and wholemeal bread
Avoid sugary drinks and snacks, processed foods (white bread, cakes) and full-fat dairy products, such as cheese and milk. Limit low-fat dairy to two servings a day.5
Anecdotal evidence suggests certain foods, including strawberries, oranges and nuts, may trigger an attack of gout in certain people. If this sounds like you, avoid these foods.6
What about alcohol?
Stay well inside the Government’s recommended alcohol limit of 14 units a week7 – even moderate amounts of alcohol are thought to lead to an increased risk of gout.8 And choose wine over beer – a study published in The Lancet in 2004 linked beer to more frequent attacks.9
Is anything good for gout?
Researchers think that a healthy diet high in wholegrains, fruit and vegetables reduces your risk of flare-ups.10
In a 20-year study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, men whose diets were higher in vitamin C were less likely to develop gout. The nutrient is thought to help lower uric acid levels.11
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Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP before trying any remedies.
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1. UK Gout Society. All about gout and diet. Available from: http://www.ukgoutsociety.org/docs/goutsociety-allaboutgoutanddiet-0113.pdf
2. As above
3. Choi HK, et al. Purine-rich foods, dairy and protein, and the risk of gout in men. Available from: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa035700
4. As Source 1
5. NHS Choices. Gout. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/gout/#things-you-can-try
6. As Source 1
7. Drink Aware. Alcohol limits and unit guidelines. Available from: https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/alcohol-facts/alcoholic-drinks-units/alcohol-limits-unit-guidelines/
8. Neogi T, et al. Alcohol quantity and type on risk of recurrent gout attacks. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3991555/
9. Choic HK, et al. Alcohol intake and the risk of incident gout in men. Available from: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140673604160005/abstract
10. Mayor S. Healthy diet could prevent gout flares, study finds. Available from: https://www.bmj.com/content/354/bmj.i4464
11. Choi HK, Gao X and Curhan G: Vitamin C intake and the risk of gout in men. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2767211/