THE GOUT DIET
Gout is caused by high uric acid levels in your blood. Extra uric acid forms sharp crystals that settle in your joints, causing swelling and pain. But you can help reduce the amount of uric acid in your body by maintaining a low-purine diet. Reducing uric acid levels can help prevent new crystals from forming, reducing gout attacks.
THE LOW PURINE DIET
Purines are chemicals that are naturally found in certain foods and drinks. When your body breaks down these chemicals, uric acid is the byproduct. A low-purine diet reduces the foods and drinks with the highest purine content to reduce uric acid. It also encourages some select foods that may reduce uric acid levels in your body.
What are the best foods to eat when you have gout?
While eating particular foods won’t be enough to make gout go away, studies suggest that certain foods and drinks may help reduce uric acid in your body.
Some early research suggests that drinking skim milk may help reduce uric acid and gout flare-ups. It speeds up the excretion of uric acid in your urine and also reduces your body’s inflammatory response to uric acid crystals in your joints.
Scientists are currently researching the benefits of cherries and cherry juice for managing gout symptoms, and early results are promising. Cherries have known anti-inflammatory properties, and they may also help reduce uric acid in your body.
You may have heard that coffee is acidic, but the type of acid in coffee is very different from uric acid. In fact, drinking coffee daily can reduce your uric acid levels by several means. It slows the breakdown of purine into uric acid and speeds the rate of excretion.
People who drink five to eight glasses of water a day are less likely to experience gout symptoms. This makes sense since your kidneys use water to excrete uric acid in your urine. Water is also good for kidney health. Impaired kidney function is one factor that can contribute to gout.
However, many healthcare providers prefer to focus on general dietary guidelines rather than particular foods. They suggest that you:
- Vary your protein sources.
- Enjoy fruits and vegetables.
Most are low in purines, but even the ones that are higher have not been shown to affect gout symptoms. And the benefits are worthwhile.
- Enjoy grains (except oats).
Rice, pasta, bread, and cereals are all gout-friendly (except oats). Beware of added high fructose corn syrup in packaged products, and choose whole grains (at least half of the time) to help control blood sugar.
Note that it's, not a cure. Diet may move the needle a little on uric acid levels in your blood, but not as much as medications do. The best approach is to combine them. Some people argue that the benefits of the diet aren’t proven to be worth the trouble when compared with medication. But medication alone is often not enough to manage gout effectively. In these cases, many people appreciate having something they can do proactively to reduce their symptoms.