What Are Foods that Cause Gout to Flare up?

  • Medical Author:
    Betty Kovacs Harbolic, MS, RD

    Betty is a Registered Dietitian who earned her B.S. degree in Food and Nutrition from Marymount College of Fordham University and her M.S. degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. She is the Co-Director and Director of nutrition for the New York Obesity Research Center Weight Loss Program.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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I have gout. Which foods should I avoid? Which foods are beneficial for people with gout?

Doctor's response

Foods that you eat, and don't eat, can impact your gout by increasing or decreasing your blood uric acid levels. You will also want to make adjustments to your diet if you have any of the conditions that are commonly found in people with gout, including, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, diabetes, obesity and impaired glucose tolerance.

The primary dietary goal for gout is to limit your intake of foods with high amounts of purine in them. Ideally, you will have little or no foods that are high in purine and only small amounts of those with moderate amounts of purine.

Foods considered high in purine content include:

  • Some fish, seafood and shellfish, including anchovies, sardines, mackerel, scallops, herring, mussels, codfish, trout, and haddock
  • Some meats such as bacon, turkey, veal, venison, liver, beef kidney, brain, and sweetbreads
  • Alcoholic beverages

Foods considered moderate in purine content include:

  • Meats such as beef, veal, poultry, pork, and lamb
  • Crab, lobster, oysters, and shrimp
  • Vegetables such as asparagus, spinach, green peas, mushrooms, and cauliflower
  • Kidney beans, lentils, and lima beans

Your other goals will be to:

  • Lose weight if you are overweight: Make sure that you do this slowly because fast weight loss will actually increase the uric acid levels in your blood.
  • Drink plenty of fluids: This can help with removing uric acid from your blood. Be sure to limit fluids with caffeine and/or calories; water and seltzer are the best choices.
  • Increase your lowfat dairy intake: There has been some research that has shown that those who drink lowfat milk or consume lowfat yogurt have lower uric acid levels than those who do not.
  • Keep your fruit and vegetable intake up: You may get a reduction in your uric acid levels by having fruit, such as cherries, and vegetables (those that are not sources of purine), as part of your diet.

It's still important to have a well-balanced diet. If you have any trouble doing so with these recommendations, I would recommend working with a dietitian to design a plan that fits your preferences and lifestyle. You can find one in your area by speaking with your physician.

Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care

REFERENCE:

"Prevention of recurrent gout: Lifestyle modification and other strategies for risk reduction"
UpToDate.com


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Reviewed on 6/16/2017

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