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Ketogenic Diet’s Affect on Gout

Uric acid and gout

Recent research has found  low carb high fat ketogenic diet might help to reduce or alleviate gout symptoms.  Gout can be a debilitating painful condition in which uric acid crystals form in the tissues and body fluids.   An increase in the production of uric acid or the body's inability to clear uric acid from the system causes the formation of crystals.  When the crystals settle in the tissues, they cause an immune response which  can result in inflammation and severe pain most often in the big toe.  Other joints like fingers, knees, wrists and other joints may also be affected.  Gout affects over eight million people in the US.

Refined sugar and carbohydrates may be implicated in the production of uric acid.

Are sugar and refined carbohydrates the real culprit in the formation of gout?  Because gout sufferers often have type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity, scientists have looked into the connection between sugar and refined carbohydrates as they relate to the formation of gout.  High levels of insulin (due to diets high in refined sugar, fructose and carbohydrates) have been found to increase uric acid levels.  Gout seems to follow as populations increase their consumption of sugar and its components. The ketogenic diet may offer a solution.

Continuing research

As the research continues,  some physicians are reporting that their patients who adhere to the ketogenic diet experience great improvement in their gout symptoms.  One variable in the gout friendly low carb (ketogenic) diet is the limiting of meat intake to less than six servings per week, and seafood intake to one or fewer servings per week   It has been observed that dairy and high fat dairy prevent the activation of inflammation responsible for gout symptoms.  Dairy appears to help the body excrete uric acid.

Studies have shown that the best diet for gout is a modified ketogenic diet:

  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Eat plenty of vegetables that are low in carbs. ( leafy greens and other green vegetables)  (Avoid corn, carrots, potatoes, and squash as they are higher in carbohydrates)
  • Limit the intake of meat to less than 6 servings per week and seafood to one serving per week.
  • Drink plenty of water and maintain high levels of hydration. (This will help dilute and flush uric acid from the body.)
  • Supplement the diet with Vitamin C, folate and tart cherry juice.  (Tart cherry tablets will help to avoid sugar associated with the actual juice.)
  • Do not eat foods containing sugar or fructose.

The ketogenic diet is low in carbohydrates and is most often used to lose weight.  The diet works by putting the body into ketosis.  With the ketogenic diet, the body is low on glucose and needs an new source of energy.  The liver turns fats into ketone bodies and fatty acids for the energy source. One of these ketones, BNB (beta-hydroxybutyrate) may help to get rid of uric acid crystals causing gout.

Research is ongoing as it relates to the ketogenic diet and its effect on gout.  So far the association between the ketogenic diet and gout looks promising.

Be sure to consult your health care provider with any questions you may have.