What is a Gout Diet?
Are you suffering from gout? Or do you know anyone who could be suffering from gout? Gout is a painful form of arthritis that is brought about by high levels of uric acid in the blood. This uric acid then forms crystals and accumulate around the joints making it very painful to move them.
The body breaks down a chemical called purine in our bodies to form uric acid. Purine is naturally found in our bodies. It is also found in certain food. Once uric acid is formed, we, under ideal conditions, eliminate it through urine. Once the body fails to get rid of uric acid the way it is supposed to be, a condition called hyperuricemia will takes place. Gout affects both men and women. Women are however at a lower risk of getting gout than men. This is according to several medical studies conducted.
Gout diet greatly reduces the risk of recurring painful gout attacks as well as slows down joint damage. In simple words, gout diet is aimed and intended to address all factors related to gout risk and management.
History of Gout
In previous years, people believed that gout was a disease for the rich and the noble. This was because they had access to what was considered the “rich diet” which consisted mainly of meat. It was also believed that eating food with purine caused gout and therefore people were advised to stay away from such foods.
This led to high restrictions to a lot of foods that contains purine, but were not certainly harmful. That is not the case however. Research has been shown that eating food with purine does not necessarily mean one will definitely suffer from gout. There are foods out there with amounts of purine and do not lead to the accumulation of uric acid in our blood.
A question arises therefore; how does one deal with gout?
Two major factors to look at here are your weight and diet. People with excess weight are at a higher risk of developing gout. Too much weight also weighs down on your joints causing more complications. The best way to start dealing with gout is to check your weight. In case of obesity, or being overweight, one can simply exercise. Rigorous exercise will put you into shape and reduce the risk of getting gout.
Note: weight loss should be done safely.
There is a gout-friendly diet for people who are interested in managing it. This diet helps in the management of painful swellings and prevention of painful attacks. It should however be noted that there are different options for different people. Talking to your doctor about it might help.
This diet will help you control uric acid levels in your blood as well as promote overall health. We are also going to check out some gout free diet recipes to help you get started.
Foods to Avoid
There are types of food that contain high levels of purine and are therefore to be avoided if possible. It would be better to simply ignore them completely to avoid complications. These foods include:
- Red meat
- Sugary beverages
- Fructose and sugary foods
- Refined carbs
Red meat, which includes a whole bunch of animal proteins, contains high levels of purine. This also includes organ meats, such as the liver and heart. They also contain very high levels of purine. Game meat such as rabbit and the likes should also be avoided. This contains high levels of purine.
You can occasionally eat seafood, but make sure it is not the kind that is high in purine.
Alcohol should be avoided when suffering from a gout attack. Stay away from beer as well. Wine should be taken with moderation. The best thing to do is to consult your doctor on how much alcohol you can take, if any.
Fructose increases the levels of uric acid in your blood by preventing the kidneys from getting rid of uric acid. Sugary foods also lead in adding of weight leading to obesity. This happens when the liver readily converts them into fat which is stored by the body. Obesity can also increase the risk of gout.
Refined carbs have very few purine content therefore are safe to eat. However, they may eventually lead to unhealthy weight gain which will make your gout flare up. Examples of refined carbs includes; white bread, candy, pasta, and cakes. However, when dealing with pasta, you can always eat whole grain pasta. Stay away from soy milk as well.
The above mentioned foods, among others, contained high levels of purine. How about foods that contain low levels of purine?
Low Purine Diet
Most, if not all, purine low foods are locally grown. They are not manufactured or processed and so there is very little risk of developing health problems after eating them. They will not only help in alleviating pain, but they will also help in improving overall health. A low purine diet contains the following foods.
- Water, which should be drunk in plenty.
- Whole grains such as oat meal.
- Legumes and beans
- Sweet potatoes
- Foods rich in vitamin C
- Low fat or fat- free dairy products. This could include skimmed milk and low fat yogurt.
Take note that even though vegetables have high purine levels, they have not been found to increase gout attacks. So these vegetables could be eaten. The more vegetables you eat in a day the better. It is recommended that you take up to five or more portions of vegetables in a day.
- Spinach and other dark leaved vegetables.
Vitamin C helps with the absorption of iron in our bodies while the whole grains contain more fiber which is also good for our bodies.
Coffee has also been known to reduce the risk of getting gout. It has also been known to reduce the attacks for those with gout. Water however remains as the best beverage as it helps in the detoxification of the blood.
Cherries and strawberries are also highly recommended. Research has shown that cherries contain antioxidants such as anthocyanins and bioflavonoids that bring about pain relief from gout and arthritis. Strawberries, on the other hand, contain antioxidants that assist the body in getting rid of free radicals. These should however be taken in moderation because they contain fructose.
Healthy fats should replace non-vegetable carbohydrates. Always go for mono-saturated fats like coconut oil, avocado, olives, olive oil, macadamia, and walnuts. Omega 3 also produces resolvins and protectins that control inflammation. It also improves overall health.
Therapeutic herbs such as ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, and rosemary help in reducing the pain as well as improving overall health.
You can also eat food rich in potassium. Potassium encourages the body to get rid of uric acid. Great sources of potassium include;
- Green vegetable juice
- Lima beans
You can also always take potassium bicarbonate as a supplement.
If you must have meat, then try substituting white meat for red meat. This should however be taken with moderation. One serving per day should be enough.
Eat foods that are rich in fatty acids. These include cold water fish such as Tuna and salmon. Fatty acids are known to lower inflammations.
Myths Associated with Gout Diet
There are a number of myths associated with gout diet. These mostly comes from perceived truths and conclusions made by individuals who do not know what gout is really all about. One of the myths surrounding gout diet is;
- Acidic foods such as tomatoes and citrus fruits contribute to uric acid build up in our blood. This is however not true because acid foods and purine rich foods are two different things. Tomatoes and citrus fruits are safe to eat. Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C which we have seen is beneficial for the body.
Taking up Gout Diet
Like every other new diet, taking up gout diet can be a little disconcerting. It is like starting a new life, but this time one doesn’t have his favorite food… or favorite beer.
- The best thing to do, however, is to plan ahead. Know that it is going to be hard and understand the importance of sticking to the diet. It would be best to talk to your loved ones and ask for their support as well.
- In case of a medical condition, or in case you are taking any medication, talking to your doctor before taking up any new diet will also help avoid complications. Some diets alter the way medicine work and it would be best to remain safe.
- Take frequent smaller meals instead of maybe three huge meals in a day. This will help reduce instances of hunger. Stocking plenty of gout-friendly food for when you need to eat in between meals can also help a lot.
Here are a few quick and simple recipes to try out. A little more research will also help you come up with more recipes.
- Carrot and sweet potatoes puree with a touch of ginger and curry will always make a great soup.
- You can easily have cooked noodles with grated Persian cheese. Add Garlic, coriander, and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- You can make a cucumber salad by mixing low fat yogurt with sliced cucumber, fresh mint, garlic and salt to taste.
These are among the many recipes out there that are not only gout friendly, but can enhance overall health. It can also be fun to come up with different recipes and experiment with these foods as well.
When eating out;
- Ask for more vegetables instead of meat. Fatty fish such as salmon could make a good main course dish.
- It would be safe to ask for vegan meals because most of them are gout-friendly.
- Always drink plenty of water.
Gout diet is not hard to achieve. However, vigilance and self discipline is important to make sure the attacks do not come back. More research will also help you determine what really works for you and what does not. Otherwise, a gout friendly diet will not only manage the attacks but will also keep one stay healthy and strong.