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Gout 101: What to eat, what not to eat

For those unfamiliar with this condition, gout is a sort of arthritis that causes inflammation of the joints. It is mostly a male disease, and around 8.3 million people in the United States alone are impacted by this disease.

Gout involves sudden pain, inflammation and swelling of the joints. The first area that gets affected is the big toe, and then it moves to other areas of the body, including the elbow, fingers, wrists, heels, knees and even the ear.

The conditions to trigger a case of gout are when there are too much uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is a waste product produced by the body during the digestion process of certain foods. As the uric acid cannot be removed from the body in some people, the uric acid crystallizes in the joints, there is swelling, intense pain and inflammation. But, a case of gout can also occur after an operation when the body is in stress. In addition, the gout attack will last for around three to ten days.

Luckily, gout, even though it is mostly due to genetics, it can be controlled with medication prescribed by a rheumatologist, and following a gout-friendly diet.

Which types of food affects gout?

If you are prone to gout attacks, then you need to watch the type of foods that you add to your diet, as some foods could raise your uric acid levels. The problematic foods are normally high in purines. These substances are found naturally in foods. More so, although your body can digest purines, your body makes uric acid as a waste product. But as people who are prone to gout cannot remove the excess uric acid, a high-purine diet where uric acid builds-up could lead to a gout attack.

Therefore, to avoid this build-up of uric acid it is best to avoid organ meat, red meats alcohol, beer, and seafood like prawns. These foods are moderate to high in purines. There is one exception; vegetables that are high in purines do not lead to gout attacks.

In addition, sugar-sweetened and fructose drinks can also increase the risk of gout attacks, although these are not purine-rich. However, these foods could raise uric acids levels by increasing different cellular processes.

Which type of foods to avoid

The first rule is to avoid high-purine foods. High-purine foods contain more than 200 milligrams of purines per 100 grams. In addition, avoid high fructose food that contain 150-200 milligrams of purines per 100 grams.

Examples are a few of the high-purine foods, moderately high purine foods and high-fructose foods to avoid are:
• All organ meats, for instance sweetbreads, livers, kidneys, and brain
• Fish such as herring, trout, mackerel, tuna, sardines, anchovies, and haddock
• Game meats, like pheasant, veal and venison
• Other seafood, like prawns, scallops, crab, shrimp and roe
• Yeasts, such as nutritional yeast, brewer’s yeast and other yeast supplements
• Sugary beverages, chiefly fruit juices and sugary sodas
• Added sugars, such as honey, agave nectar and high-fructose corn syrup
• Furthermore, refined carbs like white bread, cookies and cakes should ideally be avoided. Even though these are not high in purines or fructose, they are low in nutrients and may increase your uric acid levels.

So, what foods can you eat?

When you are following a gout-friendly diet, you will need to remove many foods from your diet. Luckily, there are plenty of low-purine foods still left. These are foods that have less than 100 milligrams of purines per 100 grams.
Examples of low-purine foods that are good for a gout-friendly diet are:

  • Most fruits are good to eat. Cherries however will avert an attack by reducing the uric acid levels and lessen inflammation.
  • Vegetables are also fine to consume. These would include mushrooms, potatoes, peas, eggplants and dark leafy vegetables.
  • All the legumes are good. These would be lentils, beans, tofu and soybeans.
  • You can eat all the different types of seeds and nuts.
  • Whole grains such as brown rice, oats or barley.
  • All kinds of dairy is safe, but low-fat dairy seems to be for the most part beneficial.
  • Eggs
  • Drinks, such as green tea, coffee, but also other sorts of teas.
  • All spices and herbs.
  • Plant-based oils, like coconut, hemp seed oil, canola, olive and flax oils.
  • You could also eat raw garlic in the morning, or alternatively drink a glass with some lemon juice. This will help to break down the acid built-up.

The foods that could be consumed, but in moderation

Foods such as game meats, organ meats, and some fish can be eaten in moderation. That is these foods should be limited to 115 to 170 grams of these a few times a week.

In terms of fish, salmon has the least amount of purines, is better to eat than other types of fish. But do be careful of eating too much beef, pork, lamb or chicken, as these could trigger a flare-up of gout.

Gout friendly menu to follow

You can lessen the effects of gout, such as swelling and pain, but also prevent flare-ups by following a gout friendly diet.

Here is an example of a gout friendly diet. This menu is for one week.

Monday

  • Breakfast: Go for oats with Greek yogurt and about 31 grams berries.
  • Lunch: Have a quinoa salad, served with boiled eggs and fresh vegetables.
  • Dinner: Whole-wheat pasta with roasted chicken, and vegetables like spinach, bell peppers and low-fat feta cheese for extra protein.

Tuesday

  • Breakfast: Make a smoothie with half a cup of blueberries, half a cup spinach, quarter of a cup of Greek yogurt and quarter of a cup of low-fat milk.
  • Lunch: Make a whole grain sandwich, and add eggs and salad.
  • Dinner: Stir-fried chicken, vegetables with some brown rice.

Wednesday

  • Breakfast: Take a third of a cup of oats prepared the day before, and add to it, a quarter of a cup of Greek yogurt, a third a cup of low-fat milk, 1 teaspoon of chia seeds, quarter of a cup of any type of berries you like and a quarter of a teaspoon of vanilla extract or vanilla paste. Do this the night before as you need to let it sit overnight.
  • Lunch: A whole-wheat wrap, filled with chickpeas and fresh vegetables.
  • Dinner: Herb-baked salmon, which is prepared with cherry tomatoes and asparagus.

Thursday

  • Breakfast: Overnight chia seed pudding — 2 tablespoons of chia seeds, 1 cup of Greek yogurt and half a teaspoon of vanilla extract with sliced fruits of your choice. Let sit in a bowl or mason jar overnight.
  • Lunch: Leftover salmon with salad.
  • Dinner: Quinoa, spinach, eggplant and feta salad.

Friday

  • Breakfast: French toast with strawberries.
  • Lunch: Whole-grain sandwich with boiled eggs and salad.
  • Dinner: Stir-fried tofu and vegetables with brown rice.

Saturday

  • Breakfast: Mushroom and zucchini frittata.
  • Lunch: Leftover stir-fried tofu and brown rice.
  • Dinner: Homemade chicken burgers with a fresh salad.

Sunday

  • Breakfast: Two-egg omelet with spinach and mushrooms.
  • Lunch: Chickpeas and fresh vegetables in a whole wheat wrap.
  • Dinner: Scrambled egg tacos — scrambled eggs with spinach and bell peppers on whole-wheat tortillas.

In the end

If you are prone to gout attacks, you should change your diet to exclude the acid building foods from your diet. Then again, other foods should be eaten in moderation like beef. Still, diet alone will not solve your problem, you need to take your meds and make some lifestyle changes like walk more and deal effectively with your stress.

About Jacques Dippenaar

Jacques is an influential health blogger and researcher helping readers explore interesting facts and information.

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