Anyone who has experienced a gout flare-up knows the pain and agony associated with this condition. What many people do not know is why the gout attacks come so quickly and frequently. Surprisingly, the American diet may be partially to blame.

Gout begins with naturally-occurring substances called purines. These purines are found in the body’s cells and in some foods. When purines are broken down in the body, uric acid is released into the bloodstream. If the body is unable to thoroughly excrete uric acid via the kidneys, it stays in the body and accumulates in the joints. This results in the extreme pain and swelling of a gout attack.

Researchers know that food intake, especially foods high in purines, can be a direct cause of gout attacks. Some patients can totally control their gout flare-ups by adjusting their diets. Others will need to take prescription medication, but these patients can also see improvement by altering their diets.

A normal diet includes roughly 600-1000 milligrams of purines each day. In order to reduce the likelihood of gout, a low-purine diet limits individuals to 100-150 milligrams per day. Minimizing purines is especially critical during a gout attack. During non-attack periods, some individuals may be able to tolerate more purines without triggering a gout episode.

High Purine Content Foods (one serving or less per day)

  • Anchovies
  • Chicken
  • Gravy
  • Mussels
  • Organ foods (liver, brains, heart, kidney)
  • Pork
  • Red meat
  • Salmon
  • Scallops
  • Shrimp

Moderate Purine Content Foods (one to two servings per day)

  • Asparagus
  • Dried beans or peas
  • Lentils
  • Mushrooms
  • Oatmeal
  • Spinach

Low Purine Content Foods (no limits)

  • Coffee or tea
  • Dairy products (Low Fat or Fat Free)
  • Eggs
  • Fruits
  • Noodles
  • Peanut butter
  • Rice
  • Vegetables (except those listed above)
  • White flour or bread

For even more information, try downloading this guideline for preventing and treating gout by Brenda Davis, a registered dietician and nutritionist.

Other Foods That Increase Uric Acid

Beer is also known to interfere with the balance of uric acid in the body – yeah, bummer! So try to hold off drinking a cold one during a gout attack.  During non-attack times, researchers recommend a maximum intake of two servings of wine each day.

High-fructose corn syrup is also a dangerous food for gout patients. Individuals should limit their intake of colas or juices that contain fructose. Juices made with 100 percent fruit won’t increase uric acid.

Foods for Gout Treatment

Researchers are finding that some foods may actually have a protective factor against excess uric acid and gout. Low-fat dairy products and cherry juice are two foods that have shown promising results so far.

Gout specialists agree that water is very helpful in removing uric acid from the body. They recommend getting between eight and 16 8-ounce glasses each day.

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