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Gout is an arthritic condition, characterized by severe pain in the joints, that occurs unpredictably and with varying frequency.Flare ups come on when excess uric acid develops in the blood. Under normal circumstances, the body dissolves uric acid and removes it via the kidneys and urination. Gout trigger foods prompt the excess to build up and crystalize at the joints. People prone to the condition should avoid or minimize specific foods to reduce their flare ups.

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Avoid Red Meat

Some meats are high in purine. The body breaks down purines into uric acid, but too much can get into the bloodstream and cause gout attacks. Red meat has a higher purine content than white meat, but, of the red meats, lamb is the most problematic. People attempting to avoid or minimize gout flare-ups should try not to consume too much beef or pork, limiting meals with these foods to three times a week at most. Those who do consume lamb should choose chops instead of the leg meat.

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Fish

Certain fish are rich in purine, and people with gout should avoid them. Problematic sea creatures include herring, tuna, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies. Salmon is a good, low-purine alternative that is generally considered safe for people with gout in moderation. People with gout should eat fish no more than twice a week.

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Wild Game

People prone to gout should avoid the meat of wild game, especially rabbit, venison, quail, pheasant, and goose. Like beef, pork, and lamb, these animals have high purine content that increases the risk of gout attacks. Instead, experts recommend white meat, which rarely triggers flare-ups and is safe to consume in moderate quantities alongside a diet rich in vegetables. 

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Scallops

Healthcare providers advise those with gout to avoid seafood such as scallops. Other fish high in purines include shellfish, sardines, herring, anchovies, codfish, trout, and haddock. Better options are lobster, shrimp, salmon, and crab, as they have lower purine content. A person's total seafood intake should be no more than six to eight ounces a day. People with gout can enjoy scallops as an occasional indulgence but should opt for a less problematic delicacy if their flare-ups increase.

Organ Meats

There has been discussion in recent years about the benefits of organ meats for general health, but these parts of the animal are not recommended for people with gout. It is best to eliminate tongue, liver, brains, kidney, and sweetbreads to minimize gout attacks.

Beer

People with gout should avoid drinking beer. The breakdown of beer in the body causes a spike in uric acid levels. Beer also dehydrates the body and slows the elimination of uric acid. Most experts advise people with gout to forgo alcohol wherever possible, but moderate consumption of wine is generally fine.

Sugary Drinks

Sweet beverages usually contain high-fructose corn syrup, which can stimulate the production of more uric acid and increase the risk of gout attacks. Fresh-squeezed juices and herbal teas are healthier alternatives to packaged fruit drinks and sodas. It is a good idea to avoid all foods that contain high-fructose corn syrup when trying to prevent gout attacks.

Certain Vegetables

Though experts recommend people with gout consume a diet rich in vegetables, some produce is high in purines, including asparagus, mushrooms, peas, spinach, and cauliflower. Eating these vegetables may not trigger an attack as readily as other problem foods; still, doctors may recommend avoiding these plant foods, as well as dried fava and garbanzo beans, as a precaution.

Certain Fruits

Like fructose-bearing drinks, some fruits trigger increased production of uric acid. Dates, prunes, lychees, plums, and pears are on the list of fruits to avoid. However, experts suggest that, as with high-purine veggies, most individuals prone to gout can consume them in moderation as long as they take care to avoid other purine- and fructose-rich foods in the same day. If they do seem to cause a problem, it is best to avoid these fruits in the future.

High-Fat Dairy Products

There is some conflicting evidence regarding the how dairy products affect people prone to gout attacks.Most studies showthat an increase in cheeses, yogurt, and ice cream could decrease the risk of gout. However, an excess of high-fat dairy products can cause various issues and may have the potential to contribute to flare-ups.

Aim For: Weight Loss

Harboring excess body fat increases the risk of gout. Uric acid is eliminated through the kidneys, and being overweight or obese decreases their functionality and efficiency. The major culprit behind this is belly fat. This isn't the fat that sits directly under the skin; it's the visceral type that wraps around the organs. Visceral fat releases chemicals that promote systemic inflammation and lead to related metabolic diseases, including insulin resistance. Weight loss reduces inflammation and gout attack risk.

Weight loss visceral belly fat Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates can reduce gout flares, but it depends on what form they take. Fructose is a type of sugar in honey and fruits. Its breakdown almost immediately increases serum purine levels and the risk of a gout attack. Fruits, whole grains, and vegetables are complex carbohydrates that are great for managing gout because they are digested slowly. While fresh fruits are beneficial, people with gout need to limit or avoid naturally sweet fruit juices with their high concentrations of fructose.

Complex carbohydrates fructose whole grains happy_lark / Getty Images

Hydration

Staying hydrated is the most readily available means of managing gout. Hyperuricemia occurs when the blood has too much uric acid. A number of conditions and circumstances can cause this, including diseases and medications. Drinking water dilutes uric acid levels in the blood and flushes the organs. The more water consumed, the more uric acid excreted, decreasing the risk of urate crystals in the joints.

Hyperuricemia hydration water flush organs Guido Mieth / Getty Images

Healthy Fats

Certain healthy fats decrease the number of recurring flare-ups. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are essential fats that humans must consume because the body can't make its own. There are times when gout medications manage the disease but do not lower the recurring gout attacks. Omega-3s are well-known anti-inflammatories that are helpful in managing other arthritis conditions, too. However, not all sources are as effective. Two or more servings of cold-water fish, such as mackerel or salmon, are better at lowering recurrent gout attacks — by at least 33 percent — compared to fish oil supplements.

Healthy fats omega-3 salmon mackerel milanfoto / Getty Images

Lean Protein

One of the keys to managing gout is to choose proteins that are low in purines, since purines can increase uric acid and trigger gout flares. Beef, shellfish, and organ meat have high levels of purines, while eggs, nuts, seeds, and tofu are safer choices.  There was a time when doctors thought that milk was also a hazard. But it turns out that low levels of vitamin D are linked to hyperuricemia. Integrating low-fat milk, cheese, and yogurt decreases the risk of gout attacks

Lean protein low-fat milk yogurt ATU Images / Getty Images

Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.