The Types of Food That Should Be Avoided by Individuals with Gout

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Gout - aching foot

In simple terms, gout is a form of arthritis that causes sudden, severe attacks of pain, swelling, redness and tenderness in joints. The most common joint affected by gout is the big toe. Gout happens when uric acid builds up in the blood and forms crystals in the joints. Uric acid is a waste product that is produced when the body breaks down purines, which are found in certain foods and drinks.

Gout can be extremely painful. The pain from a gout attack can last for days or even weeks. The pain often comes on suddenly, without warning, and can wake you up at night. Joints may be so tender that even the weight of a bedsheet hurts them.

If you have gout, you may also have other health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease. Gout can run in families.

Gout

According to NHS(1) „Gout is a type of arthritis that causes sudden, severe joint pain. See a GP for treatment to help during an attack and to stop further attacks”. It is an inflammatory disease causing a range of conditions from swelling, sickness and loss of appetite to fever. The occurrence of further attacks is prevented by managing certain nutritional habits and avoiding certain foods. Gout itself is caused by hyperuricemia, which is a condition, where there is too much uric acid in the body(2). It later builds up within the body and may cause swelling.

Gout diet treatment

To prevent symptoms of flare-ups, certain types of foods should be eliminated from the diet and it can be achieved by adhering to the following guidelines:

  • Limiting alcohol intake as it dehydrates the body and adequate fluid intake helps prevent acute gout attacks and also alcohol itself affects uric acid metabolism and can cause hyperuricemia(3)
  • Limiting the consumption of red meat (e.g. steaks, liver, brains and kidneys) as it is high in purine, a chemical that is further converted into uric acid
  • Limiting the consumption of sardines, mussels, scallop, trout and tuna as they are high in purine
  • Limiting the consumption of large, fatty meals according to NHS(1) as they can trigger a gout attack
  • Aiming to lose weight (if overweight) as being overweight is linked to a higher chance of suffering from gout(1)
  • Avoiding dried beans and peas due to high purine content
  • Avoiding asparagus due to high purine content

Other types of food that are also high in purine and should be avoided by one suffering from gout are anchovies, beef kidneys, gravy, herring, mackerel, mushrooms, scallops and sweetbreads(4).

These foods should be avoided due to their high purine content, which is then broken down into uric acids and may worsen the symptoms of the condition in some cases.

References:

  1. NHS, Gout, accessed on 14/05/21, available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/gout/
  2. CDC, Gout, accessed on 14/05/21, available at: https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/gout.html
  3. WebMD, Gout Pictures Slideshow: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments of Gout, accessed on 14/05/21, available at: https://www.webmd.com/arthritis/ss/slideshow-gout (p.10)
  4. James McIntosh, Everything you need to know about gout, accessed on 14/05/21, available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/144827

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