Diets are created and adapted for a variety of reasons. Most of the diets you probably know of are focused on weight loss, used as a jumping off point for people to change their relationships with food for the better.
Some diets, however, care created as a means of preventing various diseases. While many of these diets have side benefits as well — many of them including weight loss as a byproduct of following a specific set of eating guidelines — their main purpose is to prevent a certain disease from occurring, ease symptoms of a current condition, or both.
The gout diet is an example of one of these latter diets. Its main purpose, though weight loss is a smaller component, is to attempt to prevent cases of a health condition called gout.
Gout is a much more painful version of arthritis, occurring when uric acid levels in the blood are high. This accumulation of uric acid causes the formation of crystals around one or multiple joints, which is why it can be extremely painful. In addition to causing extreme discomfort, this affects a person’s range of motion in that area, and can cause redness and inflammation.
From what researchers understand at this point, a specific diet, in addition to medication, may be able to reduce uric acid levels in the blood, relieve symptoms, and prevent recurring attacks while slowing damage to your joints. However, these days, a gout diet is used as a general preventative diet against a number of diseases, not just limited to gout.
Based on Mayo Clinic’s summary and recommendations for treating your condition with the help of the right foods, continue reading for everything you need to know about the gout diet.
Gout Diet Review
Gout has begun to affect more and more people in the United States as the prevalence of obesity has increased, though weight is not the only thing that increases your risk of gout. Besides being obese, other risk factors for contracting gout include:
- Maintaining a diet high in purines (chemicals present in a number of foods)
- Eating an excess amount of foods high in fructose
- Drinking alcohol
- Using medications such as water pills
- Having other health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes or congestive heart failure.
As you can see based on these risk factors, minding what you are eating and drinking from day to day can actually play a significant role in either preventing gout or preventing painful flares from recurring.
Like many other diets created to prevent occurring episodes or flares associated with a specified condition, the gout diet alone does not cure gout. As powerful as diet can be in improving a number of lifestyle factors, it is not miraculous. However, diet along with the appropriate medications can significantly improve the quality of life of people with gout.
Many of the gout diet’s principles mimic those of a basic healthy eating plan, so this diet is fairly simple to follow once you understand what causes gout and its associated risk factors. Let’s look at the basics and rules and go over why they are important.
Gout Diet Plan Basics and Rules
As mentioned above, diets high in fructose (a type of simple sugar), high-purine foods, and alcohol all can increase your risk of getting gout. While the gout diet does not include strict sets of plans or rules you must follow to reach a certain goal, it does provide a set of guidelines to steer you in the right direction.
Buildup of uric acid in your blood is what causes painful flares of gout. Thankfully, certain foods can decrease the likelihood of that happening. The gout diet encourages you to eat more of these foods. Other foods can increase the likelihood that your gout will flare up (or that you will experience it if you have not before). These foods should be avoided as much as possible.
Here are the types of foods you should include in your diet, as well as the types of foods you should do your absolute best to avoid.
Foods to eat more of
There are certain foods you can eat throughout the day that some studies have shown may help prevent future gout attacks to minimize joint damage. Make sure to eat plenty of the foods recommended below, and avoid the foods discouraged as much as possible for the best possible results.
Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are all excellent sources of complex carbohydrates. These foods are fiber rich, meaning they contain large amounts of a certain type of carbohydrate that promotes slower digestion. This is why the gout diet may also be effective if you are a person who is trying to lose weight gradually.
The diet recommends you consume anywhere between 4 and 6 ounces of lean meats, poultry, and fish. Low fat dairy products such as low fat cheese or skim milk are also acceptable sources of protein on this diet — they are associated with lower uric acid levels in the body.
Some research studies have suggested drinking regular (caffeinated) coffee could help to reduce your risk of having gout. Coffee has a number of other health benefits in moderation as well, including providing plenty of antioxidants to help prevent a number of different age related diseases.
Foods to avoid
When your body breaks down a chemical called purine, uric acid is released into your blood. Purine is a naturally occurring chemical in your body, but it is also present in foods. Foods that contain large amounts of purine can lead to gout because it promotes the buildup of uric acid, which is the root cause of gout.
Avoid foods high in purine, and other foods mentioned below.
Simple carbohydrates, or simple sugars, are found in many processed foods such as candy, products made with high-fructose corn syrup, white bread, and a variety of sugar sweetened beverages. Avoid these as much as possible.
You should do your best to avoid large amounts of foods containing high levels of saturated fats. These included full-fat dairy products, red meats, and fatty chicken.
Certain types of alcohol are believed to cause more production of uric acid, especially beer. Try to avoid beer at all costs if you are considering going on a diet to prevent or relieve symptoms of gout, even if you are trying to lose weight on the diet.
Eating certain types of meat from other animals is not recommended, especially in cases of gout. Stay away from eating meats such as liver and kidney. These foods tend to be high in uric acid, which can lead to gout or make already existing gout even worse.
Certain types of fish
There are certain types of fish the gout diet plan recommends you avoid, because they are slightly higher in purines than other types of fish. These include tuna, sardines, herring, mackerel, anchovies, and several others.
Now that you are more aware of what is and what is not acceptable to eat on the gout diet, continue reading for a more detailed look at what a day following the gout diet might look like for you.
Menu and Meal Planning
Adapting to a new way of eating isn’t easy for anyone. Many of the foods you are used to eating, you are suddenly expected to eat less often — if you are not instructed to eliminate them from your diet entirely. Knowing what to buy and prepare, and how to structure your day so you have time to shop, cook, and enjoy your meals, is essential for success in any diet.
It also helps, before you decide to give a new diet of any kind a try, to look at an example of what eating on that particular diet might look like.
Here is a sample one-day menu following the gout diet recommendations summarized above. Following is a sample grocery list to help you stock your refrigerator, freezer, and cabinets with foods to help treat your gout and improve your overall health.
- 1 ½ cup oatmeal (made with steel cut oats and low fat milk) with cinnamon and nuts
- 1 cup blueberries
- Coffee or water
- Mixed green salad with olive oil dressing
- Tuna on a whole grain bun with spinach and mustard
- 2 oz. baked chicken breasts
- 1 cup roasted or steamed peas
- 1 cup wild rice
- 1 cup low fat cottage cheese
- ½ cup cantaloupe or watermelon
- Water or caffeine-free tea
- Fresh cherries
- Homemade kale chips
- Fruit salad
- Celery with nut butter
- Toast with avocado
- Low fat yogurt
- Cottage cheese and tomatoes
Grocery Shopping List
Fruit such as:
- citrus fruits
Vegetables such as:
Grains such as:
Legumes such as:
Low fat dairy products such as:
Nuts and nut butters