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The Impact of Food on Gout

People with gout know just how painful and debilitating a gout flare up and attack can be.

The pain is rather hard to forget. Gout is an acute form of arthritis that attacks specific joints after excessive levels of uric acid collects inside them. Once unhealthy amounts of the chemical infiltrate a joint, the manifestations of gout begin to appear and can include:

  • Significant, sometimes unbearable pain.
  • A feeling of warmth surrounding the affected joint.
  • Swelling.
  • Redness.
  • Immobility (in severe instances).

In many cases, the joints inside the big toe are where the condition is most often seen. However, attacks can also occur in the wrists, knees, elbows, ankles and fingers. Typically, attacks last anywhere from several hours to a few days. That said, once someone has been stricken with gout, it is not uncommon to experience repeated attacks over time. The condition often abates with or without treatment.

The Impact Of Food On Gout Explained

Uric acid collects inside the body due to the presence of substances known as purines. Purine compounds are produced naturally inside the body. However, a significant percentage of a person’s systemic concentrations of these chemicals is the direct result of the type of foods he or she consumes. When the body metabolizes purines, uric acid is among their major byproducts. Ergo, should someone follow a diet consisting of too many foods containing purines, he or she places his or herself at a much greater risk of having high levels of uric acid in his or her blood, which could trigger the development of gout and the conditions associated symptoms.

Medical professionals recommend that individuals stricken with gout be extra vigilant about managing the foods they consume. Avoiding further attacks or, at the very least, putting their bodies at a more limited risk of developing the disorder could hinge on adopting a completely different nutritional plan than what they have been accustomed to for some of or, in some instances, their entire lives. Such conditions might warrant affected persons adhere to what is known as the Gout Diet, which is geared not only towards helping them avoid or curtail recurrences of the disease but also employing a healthier lifestyle.

Example Diets for People with Gout

This dietary blueprint highlights which foods and beverages an impacted individual should avoid, the products he or she should consider consuming, as well as other principles that can be employed with designs on improving his or her overall well-being.

Foods To Avoid or Limit

Products that may precipitate gout attacks can be placed into two categories: those which are high in purines, in addition to items that do not contain purines but could cause an increased bodily concentration of uric acid by speeding up specific metabolic processes. Foods and beverages rich in purines include:

  • Red meats (beef).
  • Alcoholic drinks, particularly beer.
  • Fish (codfish, trout, haddock, sardines and anchovies).
  • Shellfish (scallops, shrimps and mussels).
  • Other meat products (turkey, venison, veal, bacon and liver).

Foods Deemed Safe

Foods that do not precipitate gout flare-ups and, in some cases, might even help abate the condition include:

  • Fruits and vegetables, especially cherries, which have brought relief to certain sufferers.
  • Dairy products (milk, yogurt and cheeses).
  • Eggs.
  • Grains (rice, wheat and pasta).

In addition to following dietary recommendations, an individual's chances of eliminating or curtailing occurrences of gout might increase if he or she also:

  • Drinks plentiful quantities of water. Proper hydration has been known to prevent recurrent attacks. In addition, since uric acid is excreted in urine, consuming more water could help flush uric acid out of the body with greater expediency, thus potentially lessening the duration of an attack.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight. Research has concluded that excess weight may contribute to the development of gout. The consumption of fewer calories may not only help an individual shed extra pounds but is believed to reduce the body's uric acid production.