If you or someone you know is diagnosed with gout, knowing the food choices that are bad or good for you is a big boost on your road to recovery from this disease. Your dietary choices are just as important as the treatment protocols and lifestyle changes that you follow.
The Big No-Nos If You Have Gout
Eliminate these foods from your diet, as these are proven to be harmful for gout patients.
• High-Fructose Corn Syrup
High-fructose corn syrup (HCFS) is found in processed items such as breakfast cereals, ice cream, sodas, fruit juices, and sports drinks. Removing this from your diet is crucial because it’s known to pave the way for the onset of gout.
Gout attacks or flare-ups often target the joints, resulting in pain, inflammation, and even joint damage. But did you know that fructose-loaded food plays a role in this painful scenario? This is because high blood sugar levels, often an outcome of eating fructose-loaded food, are actually the root cause of this inflammation.
High-fructose corn syrup affects your uric acid levels, known to be one of the main factors in gout. Gout occurs because of hyperuricemia, or high uric acid levels in your blood.
Fructose prevents your kidneys from expelling uric acid, and this causes a buildup inside your body leading to higher uric acid levels. Uric acid happens to be one of the waste products and toxins that come from fructose when it’s metabolized by your body.
Fructose is also connected to other devastating effects. Compared to other natural sugars, fructose is metabolized by your body differently as it goes straight into the liver. This sugar is converted more readily into fat, making it a major risk factor for diabetes, obesity and chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s and cancer.
The ideal fructose consumption is 25 grams a day, but if you are at risk for diseases such as gout and diabetes, lower this to 15 grams a day.
• High-Purine Food
It’s a common belief that eating food rich in purine can cause gout attacks. But what exactly is purine? It’s a substance naturally found in your body’s cells and in certain foods.1
When you eat something with purine, the body breaks it down, and uric acid is then formed. As mentioned earlier, high uric acid levels can lead to gout, and consequently, joint pain and damage. Some examples of high-purine foods include organ and red meats, shellfish,2 anchovies, herring, mushrooms, asparagus, cauliflower, kidney beans, lentils, spinach, peas, and whole wheat grains.3,4
• Processed Food
The prevalence of processed food in many Americans’ diets is a sad sight. Apart from high-fructose corn syrup, different preservatives and additives are added to processed food, making them nutritionally deficient and setting many Americans up for the risk of various diseases, with gout being one of them.
Alcoholic drinks are a strong risk factor for gout, since these increase your blood uric acid levels, and consequently, your risk of a gout attack. Drinking too much wine can also raise your insulin levels, considered to be a major risk factor for diabetes.
• Soy Milk
Avoid drinking soy milk if you have gout. Research has shown that uric acid levels were elevated by about 10 percent if you drink soy milk.
Absolute Musts in a Gout Diet
For gout patients, these foods can support in alleviating and recuperating from the sickness. The main rule of thumb for any healthy diet (not just for gout patients) is to eat whole, ideally organic, and locally grown food, and none of the processed and artificial items that are common today. Here are some of the best choices if you or someone you know has gout.
• Organic Cherries and Strawberries
These fruits are “berry good” for people with gout. Cherries contain two powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins and bioflavonoids that slow down the enzymes Cyclo-oxygenase-1 and -2.
This results in pain relief from gout and arthritis. Meanwhile, strawberries have antioxidants that combat free radicals and assist the body in eliminating uric acid. Just make sure to eat these berries in moderation, since they have fructose that can be harmful if eaten excessively.
• Healthy Fats
Replace non-vegetable carbohydrates with sufficient amounts of healthy monounsaturated fats. Your best bets include coconuts and coconut oil, avocados, raw-grass fed butter, olives and olive oil, and raw nuts such as macadamias, walnuts, and pecans. This type of fat is reliable in regulating your insulin and leptin levels. Add animal-based omega-3 fats like krill oil to your diet as well.
Omega-3s are extremely helpful for people who have gout or other types of arthritis, because the production of compounds called resolvins and protectins by the fat aids in controlling inflammation. Plus, krill oil is known to fight inflammation-related disorders.
• Therapeutic Herbs
Therapeutic herbs such as ginger, cinnamon, rosemary, turmeric, and ashwagandha work well in reducing the pain brought about by gout, because they are potent anti-inflammatories.
• Potassium-Rich Food
This mineral and electrolyte provides support to gout patients, as potassium citrate, a type of potassium found in fruits and vegetables, neutralizes uric acid found in your urine5 and encourages your body to excrete this acid.
Green vegetable juice, avocados, Lima beans, papayas, Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard, and broccoli are excellent sources of potassium. You can also consider taking the best potassium source for supplementation called potassium bicarbonate.
Pure water is the best drink for people with gout, since it assists your body with detoxification. This is a process that your blood, kidneys, and liver undergo wherein they flush out waste products and toxins (uric acid is an example) from your body. In effect, this lessens the amount of uric acid in your system, reducing your risk of uric acid build-up and gout.