Gout: Changing Your Diet

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Gout: Changing Your Diet

Introduction

Gout is a form of arthritis marked by sudden attacks of painful, inflamed joints. If it is not controlled, gout can cause severe damage to joints, tendons, and other tissues.

Gout is caused by too much uric acid in the blood. This used to be treated with a strict diet, but now there are medicines that can control it. These medicines have largely replaced the need to restrict what you eat.

But making changes in your diet may still help with your gout. If you want to try an eating plan for gout, this Actionset can help you learn more about how to eat in ways that may help you keep your gout under control and still get the nutrition you need.

Key points

To help control your gout:

  • Limit foods that are high in purines, especially meat, seafood, and beer.
  • Eat a healthy diet that provides the nutrients you need and helps you control your weight.
  • Eat low-fat dairy products. This may lower your risk of gout.1
  • Drink plenty of water and other fluids. This can help your body get rid of uric acid.
 

Purines are chemical compounds that are broken down into uric acid. High levels of uric acid can cause gout attacks.

Most purines are made by the body, but some come from foods. Eating foods that have a lot of purines can raise uric acid levels in the body, which may make your gout worse.

Foods that are high in purines include:

  • Organ meats, such as liver, kidneys, sweetbreads, and brains.
  • Meats, including bacon, beef, pork, and lamb.
  • Game meats.
  • Any other meats in large amounts.
  • Anchovies, sardines, herring, mackerel, and scallops.
  • Gravy.
  • Beer.

Test Your Knowledge

On a low-purine diet, you can still drink as much beer as you want.

  • True.
    This answer is incorrect.

    It is important to limit how much beer you drink. Beer can increase the amount of uric acid in your body and bring on sudden attacks of painful, inflamed joints.

  • False.
    This answer is correct.

    It is important to limit how much beer you drink. Beer can increase the amount of uric acid in your body and bring on sudden attacks of painful, inflamed joints.

  •  

Continue to Why?

 

Changing what you eat may help control your gout. Eating foods with a lot of fat, such as organ meats, broths, and gravy, can raise uric acid levels. High uric acid levels can cause attacks. You may be able to help control the amount of uric acid in your body by limiting high-purine foods in your diet.

Lowering your uric acid levels may also lower your chances of getting kidney stones.

Eating a healthy diet will help you stay at a healthy weight, which may help lower your risk of having future attacks of gout.

Test Your Knowledge

Eating foods low in purines may lower your chances of getting kidney stones.

  • True.
    This answer is correct.

    Gout is caused by too much uric acid in the blood. You may be able to help control the amount of uric acid in your body by limiting high-purine foods in your diet. Lowering your uric acid levels may also lower your chances of getting kidney stones.

  • False.
    This answer is incorrect.

    Gout is caused by too much uric acid in the blood. You may be able to help control the amount of uric acid in your body by limiting high-purine foods in your diet. Lowering your uric acid levels may also lower your chances of getting kidney stones.

  •  

Continue to How?

 

There are several things you can do as part of an eating plan for gout.

  1. Avoid or limit foods that are high in purines, especially during a gout attack. These foods include:
    • Organ meats, such as liver, kidneys, sweetbreads, and brains.
    • Meats, including bacon, beef, pork, and lamb.
    • Game meats.
    • Any other meats in large amounts.
    • Anchovies, sardines, herring, mackerel, and scallops.
    • Gravy.
    • Beer.
  2. Eat foods that may lower your risk of gout.1 These include:
    • Low-fat or fat-free milk.
    • Low-fat yogourt.
  3. Choose healthy foods. These foods include:
    • A wide range of fruits and vegetables.
    • Eggs, nuts, and seeds for protein.
    • Small amounts of meat. Limit your serving size to 2 to 3 ounces a day.
  4. Drink plenty of water and other fluids. This can help your body get rid of uric acid.
  5. Avoid eating habits that can raise your uric acid levels. For example:
    • Avoid crash diets and low-carbohydrate diets.
    • Do not eat too much food or drink too much alcohol.
    • Do not take large amounts of vitamin C.
    • Avoid alcohol, especially beer and "spirits" such as whiskey and gin.

You can use Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating to help you make a healthy eating plan.

Test Your Knowledge

On a low-purine diet, you can include fruits and vegetables.

  • True.
    This answer is correct.

    By including fruits, vegetables, and other foods low in purines in your diet, you can help manage your symptoms.

  • False.
    This answer is incorrect.

    By including fruits, vegetables, and other foods low in purines in your diet, you can help manage your symptoms.

  •  

Eating low-fat or fat-free milk and low-fat yogourt may help lower your risk of gout.

  • True.
    This answer is correct.

    By eating low-fat or fat-free milk and low-fat yogourt, you may help lower your risk of gout and get the nutrition you need.

  • False.
    This answer is incorrect.

    By eating low-fat or fat-free milk and low-fat yogourt, you may help lower your risk of gout and get the nutrition you need.

  •  

Continue to Where?

 

If you would like more information on controlling your weight, the following information is available:

Organization

Arthritis Society of Canada
393 University Avenue
Suite 1700
Toronto, ON  M5G 1E6
Phone: (416) 979-7228
Fax: (416) 979-8366
Email: info@arthritis.ca
Web Address: http://www.arthritis.ca/
 

The Arthritis Society provides funding for arthritis research and offers information on patient care, public education, and self-management of arthritis.


Now that you have read this information, you can make choices that limit high-purine foods in your diet. Talk with your doctor about the changes to your diet. He or she may have more suggestions and tips on how to avoid high-purine foods. You may also want to meet with a registered dietitian for more ideas about a healthful diet for you.

Return to topic:

References

Citations

  1. Choi HK, et al. (2004). Purine-rich foods, dairy and protein intake, and the risk of gout in men. New England Journal of Medicine, 350(11): 1093–1103.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Last Revised August 16, 2010

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.