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Purines and gout – what you need to know

If you are living with gout then don’t worry, you are not alone. The UK Gout Society reports that one in 14 men and one in 35 women are affected by gout.1

What are purines?

As you may know, gout is caused by an elevated level of uric acid in the blood.

Uric acid is a chemical produced by the body when it breaks down a substance in the blood called purine.

Uric acid is present in the body naturally and does not cause issues at normal levels.

However, elevation can happen as a result of eating too many foods and drinks high in purines.

Which foods are high in purines?

Purines are present in many different foods, including organ meats (like liver and kidney), shellfish, red meat, soybeans and vegetables such as cauliflower, asparagus and mushrooms.

The fact that a food contains purine does not automatically make it off-limits to you, so don’t worry as the benefits of these healthy foods outweigh the dangers posed by their purine levels.

It is not recommended that you cut out healthy foods such as vegetables, although the UK Gout Society advises you to avoid foods particularly rich in purines such as red meat, organ meats and shellfish, as well as beverages such as beer.2

What should I be eating?

A diet rich in fruit, vegetables, and pulses.

A study from 20123 has linked the consumption of cherries to a decreased risk of gout flare-ups, so feel free to enjoy lots of this healthy fruit.

Diet can help with the symptoms of gout, but unfortunately cannot totally eradicate flare-ups.

Maintaining a healthy weight is key, as being overweight increases the risk of frequent gout attacks.

Also, limiting your consumption of beers and spirits is recommended as these are major co-existing risk factors for those with gout.4,5

Do not crash diet as this can cause uric acid retention.

Drinking plenty of water, at least two litres a day, will help.

Nettle tea also has the added benefit of having mild diuretic effects and so can help flush out uric acid from the system.

What else treats gout?

Your GP will probably prescribe a urate-lowering medicine and might prescribe you vitamin C supplements. It is important to follow your doctor’s advice as each case is different.

Handpicked content: 7 alternative ways to treat gout

Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please consult a doctor or healthcare professional before trying any remedies.

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