It’s not even close to being a secret that the foods we eat affect our bodies – for better or worse! The right diet can feed lean muscle tissue and keep you looking trim, while a steady supply of sugar-laden treats will pack on the pounds and increase your risk for diabetes. There’s more to the story, though.
When your body breaks down a chemical known as purine—which is found naturally in certain foods, the byproduct is something called uric acid. This is important to know because it plays a role in gout.
Gout is a form of arthritis that develops due to excessive uric acid, and it causes intense pain. Following a gout-friendly eating plan can lower your risk of developing the condition in the first place, while also playing a key role in managing gout if you already have it.
The key to a gout-safe diet is minimizing the amount of uric acid your body produces from consuming purine. Now, the body typically filters uric acid out and flushes it from the body in urine. Too much, however, and it starts to build up – typically in joints and especially in the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint found at the base of the big toe. As it builds, the acid crystalizes. Urate acid crystals have sharp points, which are the source of the shooting pain during a gout attack (when they press into soft tissue).
Accordingly, your best bet is to eat a diet consisting of low-purine foods and restrict or avoid those that have higher amounts of purine.
Foods that contain high levels of purine include beef, pork, bacon, lamb, organ meats (liver, kidneys, etc.), game meats (sorry, hunters!), seafood, gravy, and beer. With regard to seafood, not all types are considered to be equally as high in purine. Ones to avoid include anchovies, sardines, mackerel, scallops, herring, trout, haddock, tuna, and mussels. Others—like salmon or tilapia—are fine to eat occasionally.
As a general rule of thumb, limit how often and how much meat you eat. For specific recommendations, our office can help.
Whereas those are foods to avoid, ones that are safe include:
- Vegetables. You know these are already nutritional all-stars—containing a vast array of essential vitamins and minerals—but they are especially great for preventing and managing gout. Green veggies and tomatoes are particularly beneficial in this context.
- Cherries. Along with veggies, fresh fruit—the kind not baked into pies or other pastries (which you should avoid, or at least limit)—are widely-recommended to manage gout. We can help you identify which ones are right for you, but cherries will likely be included. In a 2012 study, cherries and cherry juice were found to reduce the odds of gout attacks for the next two days after consumption by 50%!
- Dairy products. There is evidence that low-fat and nonfat dairy products like yogurt, milk, and cheese can lower gout risk.
- Legumes. Given that most non-lean meat sources are to be avoided, you can safely add some protein (and fiber) to your diet with beans, nuts, and other legumes.
- Water, coffee, and tea. To avoid or manage gout, you need to pass on sugary beverages and beer (and distilled liquors). Instead, drink plenty of water, unsweetened tea, and coffee (but hold the sugar and heavy cream).
Our team at Premier Podiatry Group can help you manage this condition by prescribing medications to treat and prevent gout attacks and complications. We can also assist you in creating a dietary plan that may keep your joints pain-free. Contact our Ebensburg, PA office by calling (814) 472-2660. You can also connect with us by using our online form.