Gout is an arthritic condition caused by excess uric acid in the body, which is characterized by severe pain in affected joints that occurs unpredictably and with varying frequency. Under normal circumstances, the body dissolves uric acid into the blood and removes it via the kidneys. Since certain foods can trigger excess uric acid production, gout sufferers should avoid them at all costs.
Some meats are high in purine content. The body breaks down purines into uric acid, but too much can get into the bloodstream and cause attacks. Red meats have higher purine content as compared to white meats. However, if patients cannot completely give up those juicy steaks and burgers, they could opt for pork instead of beef or lamb. Beef and lamb have a higher purine content than other meats.
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Certain types of fish are very rich in purines, and gout sufferers should avoid them completely. These include herring, tuna, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies, which are all very potent triggers of gout attacks. For those with gout, a good alternative to these fish varieties would be salmon. Nonetheless, people with gout should limit their intake of salmon to only a few portions a week. Add more poultry and vegetables to the diet as a healthy alternative.
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If you have issues with gout, you must stay away from wild game, particularly that of turkey and geese. Like red meat, these have a high purine content that puts gout-prone individuals at risk for a flare-up.
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Healthcare providers advise those with gout to avoid seafood—especially scallops. Scallops are a particular trigger for gout attacks because they are so high in purine. Oysters, shrimp, crab, and lobsters are safer bets; though, total seafood intake should be no more than 6 to 8 ounces a day. People with gout can enjoy scallops as an occasional indulgence but if you find they trigger attacks, it’s best to avoid them.
Though they aren't as widely consumed in North America as they used to be a century ago, organ meats are not the right choice for people with gout. Eliminate tongues, livers, brains, kidneys, and sweetbreads from their diet to minimize flare-ups.
People with gout should avoid drinking beer. First of all, the breakdown of beer in the body causes a spike in uric-acid levels. Also, beer dehydrates the body and slows the process of its elimination from the body. So, it is doubly dangerous to consume this type of alcoholic beverage. Gout patients are usually advised to forgo all alcohol as far as possible, but wine consumption in moderation is not completely discouraged.
Beverages that have high sugar are usually sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup. The consumption of these drinks stimulates the body to produce more uric acid. Excess uric acid puts individuals with gout at higher risk of a flare-up. Healthier alternatives are freshly squeezed juices and herbal teas as opposed to packaged fruit drinks and non-diet sodas. It’s a good idea to avoid all foods that contain high-fructose corn syrup as well to prevent flare-ups.
Though experts recommend a diet rich in vegetables for those worried about gout, some vegetables have high amounts of purines. These include asparagus, mushrooms, peas, spinach, and cauliflower. However, eating these vegetables may not trigger a flare-up as readily as other food items on this list. This is because high-purine vegetables do not tend to trigger gout in the way that high-purine animal products do. Nonetheless, some vegetables that have very high purine content, primarily dried beans such as fava and garbanzo, could be avoided just as a precaution.
Healthcare providers recommend that those worried about gout avoid certain kinds of fruit. Like fructose-bearing drinks, some fruits, too, lead to increased production of uric acid in the body. Dates, prunes, lychees, plums, cherries, and pears are on the list of fruits to avoid. However, experts suggest that even these fruits may be consumed in moderation as long as other purine-rich and fructose-containing foods are not consumed in the same day.
There is some conflicting evidence regarding the consumption of dairy products and how they affect gout. Some studies have shown that an increase in the intake of cheeses, yogurt, and ice-cream may decrease the risk of developing gout. However, gout patients should not consume too much milk or ice-cream. The bottom line is that high-fat dairy products can trigger flare-ups.
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