While certain foods have been known to trigger gout flares, there is, technically, no regimented “gout diet.” But living with gout does mean making choices that are smart for you – and everyone in the family. That includes limiting how much you consume certain types of foods and beverages.
Diet and Lifestyle goals
- Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight
- Setting and keeping up with good eating habits
- Limiting foods with purines
- Eating foods that help to lower uric acid levels.
Because uric acid is formed from the breakdown of purines, it is best to limit the amount of purine-rich foods you consume.
Foods To Avoid With Gout
Even though there are no foods that cause gout, it’s good to limit your consumption of the following, and avoid these foods and drinks entirely if you are having a gout flare.
While these foods are not the main cause for a person developing gout, they have been known to trigger gout flares. Limiting their intake can be beneficial but, by itself, will be an insufficient approach to treating gout.
Diet may only play a minor role in determining who gets gout (genetic factors are most important) but overindulgence in the above food and drinks may trigger flares of this disease.
Now that we have discussed the foods to avoid with gout, let’s take a look at foods to eat with gout that can help keep you on the right track.
Healthy Low-Purine Recommended Foods
- Lean proteins like fish and chicken are fine in moderation (around 4 to 6 ounces per day).
- Low-fat and nondairy products
- Fresh fruits
- Nuts, nut butter, and healthy grains
- Vegetables: luckily there is a wide variety of vegetables to choose from for your healthy diet.
For more information on how diet affects those with gout, check out our fact sheet
Gout Prevention Diets
When thinking about gout and diet it’s important to understand know that a healthy diet will always be beneficial for your overall health and well-being. With that being said, here are three diets that promote eating foods lower in purines, fat, and sodium.
The DASH diet is short for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.” The focus of this diet is to eat foods that help to lower blood pressure (hypertension). It’s also important to focus on foods rich in magnesium, potassium, and calcium.
The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional foods that people used to eat in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, including France, Spain, Greece, and Italy.
It’s been said that a plant and grain-based diet is good for overall health—our cardiovascular health, gastrointestinal system, and more. This works to help reduce gout flares, too! If you have gout, keep these foods in your diet: low-fat or non-fat dairy products; fresh vegetables and fresh fruit; and nuts and grains.
As we know with many diseases, making modifications to lifestyle and diet are important. However, lifestyle and diet alone are typically not enough once a patient has been diagnosed with gout.
Many gout specialists have studied the diet’s effect on uric acid. At best, a healthy/balanced diet may beneficially contribute to a reduction of uric acid levels by 1.0 mg/dL. This reinforces the importance of taking daily medication—and not simply relying on dietary changes. Those who have gout should stay hydrated and maintain a healthy, balanced diet. The DASH diet and Mediterranean diet are good models to follow when trying to eat healthier.
Diet may play only a minor role in determining who gets gout (genetic factors are most important) but overindulgence in these foods may trigger flares of this disease.
Limit High Fructose Corn Syrup
Gout sufferers are also encouraged to reduce high-fructose corn syrup. Fructose is a naturally occurring simple sugar found in fruit, vegetables, and honey. Many fruits have naturally occurring high fructose levels, so they should also be limited to one or two cups per day. However, in the typical American diet, high-fructose corn syrup is added to many foods and drinks. The Gout Education Society recommends limiting table sugar, table salt, and any products with high-fructose corn syrup, including soft drinks and juices; cereals, store-bought baked goods, ice cream and candy; and processed foods at fast-food restaurants.
What Lifestyle Changes Should I Make?
Know your uric acid level—and “Go for Six”
Knowing your uric acid level is as important as knowing your other healthy benchmark numbers—like cholesterol, blood pressure and heart rate. The Gout Education Society recommends people with gout aim for a healthy uric acid level of 6.0 mg/dL or below. Your doctor will determine the level that is right for you. It’s also important to check your uric acid levels every six months to ensure target levels are being met.
Adults should engage in moderate-intensity physical activities for at least 30 minutes most days of the week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This includes activities such as walking briskly or swimming laps, mowing the lawn, dancing, swimming or bicycling on level terrain. Increasing the intensity or the amount of time you are physically active can have even greater health benefits and may be needed to prevent weight gain. Develop an appropriate exercise program that is tailored to your body, lifestyle and needs. Always check with your physician before starting any new or vigorous exercise program.
Maintain a healthy body weight
An obese person is three times more likely to develop gout than someone with a normal body weight. Avoid crash diets, since fast or extreme weight loss can increase the amount of uric acid in the body. High-protein diets that contain high-purine foods may also be a problem for people with gout.
Many dietitians recommend consuming at least 64 ounces of water daily and more if you are exercising. Water helps the body transport nutrients and waste, regulates body temperature and cushions joints and tissues. Research also suggests that drinking adequate water might guard against kidney stones and constipation. Avoid sports drinks sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup.
The risk of gout appears to be lower in men taking daily vitamins. Vitamin C may be a useful supplement in the 500 to 1,000 mg per day range.
In addition to knowing your uric acid number – aiming for 6.0 mg/dL or below – you should also be keeping track of these other healthy benchmarks, too!