Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis that affects approximately 4% of adults in the United States, with men outpacing women by a large margin — six million men versus two million women. Because this condition can be extremely painful, any steps you take now to prevent a flare-up are well worth the effort. And one of the most effective ways to control gout is through your diet.
At Valerius Medical Group & Research Center, under the expert direction of board-certified rheumatologists Dr. Nathaniel Neal and Dr. Rebekah Neal-Kraal, our team specializes in a wide range of complex autoimmune and musculoskeletal diseases. And while we provide the most cutting-edge treatments available, we also believe that patient education is key, especially when it comes to manageable conditions like gout.
Here’s a look at how what you eat can influence gout.
There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, which is a catchall term for any disease that causes pain and inflammation in your joints. And gout certainly qualifies when it comes to pain. With gout, uric acid builds up in your body and forms sharp crystals inside your joints — namely the joints in your big toes, but it can also affect your fingers, wrists, knees, and heels.
When this happens, it leads to an attack of gout, which typically comes on at night. The ensuing pain can be intense and usually lasts for a week to 10 days.
If you’re one of the lucky ones, you may only experience one attack of gout during your lifetime, but the fact is that 60% of all gout sufferers go on to have another attack within a year, and 84% have another attack within three years.
Because of these high probabilities, prevention becomes a primary goal, and one of the ways to steer clear of gout is to keep your levels of uric acid in check.
Uric acid is one of those things that you might not give a second thought to — unless you’ve experienced gout. Uric acid is a waste product that your body produces when it digests certain foods, especially those high in purines, including:
While foods high in glucose (sugar) aren’t high in purines, a high-fructose diet may make you more vulnerable to a gout attack, so you should avoid sweetened foods and beverages, like sodas.
If that list of dietary no-nos above leads you to wonder what you can eat, the good news is there are plenty of foods that don’t contain high levels of purine.
For example, almost all fruits and vegetables are fair game and some fruits, like cherries, may even help with your gout since they contain anti-inflammatory properties.
As well, nuts, whole grains, and dairy products are all fairly safe foods for gout sufferers.
If you need your meat fix, you can eat chicken, beef, and pork in reasonable amounts — about 4-6 ounces per serving. Try and limit this meat and poultry intake to just a few times a week, though. And if you want fish, try canned fish, such as tuna or salmon, which contain lower levels of purine.
The bottom line is that a few dietary tweaks can go a long way toward warding off a painful and debilitating gout attack. Of course, there are other factors that may make you more susceptible to gout, including genetics and weight, and we’re happy to sit down with you to come up with the best treatment plan for your unique situation.
If you’d like to learn more about better managing your gout, please contact our office in Los Alamitos, California, to set up an appointment.