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What Food to Eat & Avoid if You Have Gout

Gout is a common form of inflammatory arthritis resulting from high levels of uric acid in the blood, which in turn causes needle-like urate crystals to form at the joint. This triggers the sudden onset of severe pain, inflammation and stiffness of the joint, particularly the one at the base of the big toe.

Gout is a long-term condition that can affect anyone. At the moment, a gout cure has not been discovered. However, a combination of medications and lifestyle modifications can help ease the pain and discomfort from a gout attack and prevent future flare-ups. If you are at high risk of developing gout, you may also want to pay careful attention to your diet. Knowing which types of food are good for you will not only minimize the chances of gout attacks, but will also slow the progression of joint damage.

What to Avoid

A high level of uric acid in the blood is caused by large amounts of purine, which are substances that are either naturally produced by the body or obtained from food. Refraining from consuming high-purine food can help decrease uric levels in the body, as well as prevent gout attacks altogether. Below are some types of food that you should avoid:

  • Alcohol – Alcoholic beverages are found to hinder the body’s ability to expel uric acid, causing it to remain in the blood. Specifically, beer should be avoided as it contains alcohol and purine-rich brewer’s yeast.
  • Red, organ or game meats such as liver, kidneys, brains and venison, all of which are high in fats
  • Seafood, including shrimp, sardines, anchovies, lobster, mackerel, scallops and other shellfish, are rich in purines
  • Refined carbohydrates
  • Processed food
  • High-fructose and sugary food and beverages

However, purine-rich vegetables and full-fat dairy products do not cause gout attacks nor affect uric acid levels. Depending on your risk for gout, you may not need to avoid these kinds of food altogether, but just limit your intake.

What to Eat

It’s not enough for you to know which food to avoid to prevent gout attacks. Treatment for gout also involves knowing which ones are good for your joint health and overall well-being. Of course, it goes without saying that low-purine food options are ideal. These include:

  • Fruits and vegetables – Cherries are known for reducing inflammation and uric acid levels. All kinds of vegetables are also good for those at high risk of gout.
  • Whole grains such as barley and oats
  • Nuts, seeds and legumes like tofu, beans and lentils
  • Dairy products
  • Coffee and tea – Both are found to have a low effect on gout risk.

In terms of gout treatment, a healthy diet is best accompanied by lifestyle adjustments and regular intake of medicines, if applicable. Consult your doctor to learn more about the treatment options that are suitable for you.

If you would like to know if you’re at risk of developing gout, or you want to learn more about which treatment is most ideal to help you lower your uric acid levels and prevent gout attacks, feel free to schedule an appointment with A/Prof Leong Keng Hong by calling 6472-4337.

About Our Arthritis Specialist

A/Prof Leong Keng Hong is a senior consultant Rheumatologist at Gleneagles Medical Centre and Adjunct Associate Professor, Yong Yoo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore. He founded the Osteoporosis Society (Singapore) in 1996 and served as its President until 2004. He was also the Inaugural Chairman of the Chapter of Rheumatologists, College of Physicians, Academy of Medicine, Singapore from 2004-2007 and its current Chairman until 2013.

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