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Gout: Changing Your Diet


What is an Actionset?

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.

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:

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.
False.

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.
False.

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 yogurt.
  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.

Test Your Knowledge

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

True.
False.

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

True.
False.

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

Organizations

American College of Rheumatology
2200 Lake Boulevard NE
Atlanta, GA 30319
Phone: (404) 633-3777
Fax: (404) 633-1870
Web Address: www.rheumatology.org

The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and the Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals (ARHP, a division of ACR) are professional organizations of rheumatologists and associated health professionals who are dedicated to healing, preventing disability from, and curing the many types of arthritis and related disabling and sometimes fatal disorders of the joints, muscles, and bones. Members of the ACR are physicians; members of the ARHP include research scientists, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, psychologists, and social workers. Both the ACR and the ARHP provide professional education for their members.

The ACR website offers patient information fact sheets about rheumatic diseases, about medicines used to treat rheumatic diseases, and about care professionals.


Arthritis Foundation
P.O. Box 7669
Atlanta, GA 30357
Phone: 1-800-283-7800
Web Address: www.arthritis.org

The Arthritis Foundation provides grants to help find a cure, prevention methods, and better treatment options for arthritis. It also provides a large number of community-based services nationwide to make living with arthritis easier, including self-help courses; water- and land-based exercise classes; support groups; home study groups; instructional videotapes; public forums; free educational brochures and booklets; the national, bimonthly consumer magazine Arthritis Today; and continuing education courses and publications for health professionals.


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.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Last RevisedJuly 19, 2011

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