Inflamed, Painful Joints
Gout is a health problem that causes inflamed, painful joints. Gout affects more men than women. It is often linked with obesity, high blood pressure, high levels of lipids in the blood (hyperlipidemia), and diabetes.
Gout is caused by monosodium urate crystal deposits in the joints. This is due to an excess of uric acid in the body. Too much uric acid may be caused by several things. It may be caused by the body making too much uric acid. Or the kidneys may not get rid of enough uric acid. It may also be caused by eating a lot of foods that are high in purines. Purines turn into uric acid in the body.
Foods high in purines include:
- Alcoholic drinks and sugary drinks high in fructose
- Certain meats, such as game meats, kidney, brains, and liver
- Dried beans and dried peas
- Seafood, such as anchovies, herring, scallops, sardines, and mackerel
Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each person. Common symptoms include:
- General feeling of illness
- Hard lumps of urate crystal deposits under the skin (tophi)
- Severe, sudden pain in one or more joints, most often the joint in the big toe
- Skin that is red or purple, tight, and shiny over the joint
- Swollen joint(s)
- Warmth in the joint area
Treatment will depend on your symptoms, your age, and your general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is. You can reduce the risk of future flare-ups of gout and decrease their severity by taking medicine as prescribed.
Eating to Prevent Gout
Gout is a painful form of arthritis caused by an excess of uric acid. This is a waste product made by the body. It builds up in the body and forms crystals that collect in the joints, causing a gout attack. Alcohol and certain foods can trigger a gout attack. Below are some guidelines for changing your diet to help you manage gout. Your healthcare provider can work with you to determine the best eating plan for you. Know that diet is only one part of managing gout. Take your medicines as prescribed and follow the other guidelines your healthcare provider has given you.
Foods to limit
Eating too many foods containing purines may increase the levels of uric acid in your body and increase your risk for a gout attack. It may be best to limit these high-purine foods:
Alcohol (beer and red wine). You may be told to avoid alcohol completely.
Certain fish (anchovies, sardines, fish roes, herring, tuna, mussels, codfish, scallops, trout, and haddock)
Certain meats (red meat, processed meat, bacon, turkey, wild game, and goose)
Sauces and gravies made with meat
Organ meats (such as liver, kidneys, sweetbreads, and tripe)
Legumes (such as dried beans and peas)
Mushrooms, spinach, asparagus, and cauliflower
Yeast and yeast extract supplements
Foods to try
Some foods may be helpful for people with gout. You may want to try adding some of the following foods to your diet:
Dark berries. These include blueberries, blackberries, and cherries. These berries contain chemicals that may lower uric acid.
Tofu. Tofu, which is made from soy, is a good source of protein. Studies have shown that it may be a better choice than meat for people with gout.
Omega fatty acids. These acids are found in fatty fish (such as salmon), certain oils (such as flax, olive, or nut oils), or nuts. They may help prevent inflammation due to gout.
The following guidelines are recommended by the American Medical Association for people with gout. Your diet should be:
High in fiber, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Low in protein (15% of calories should come from protein. Choose lean sources, such as soy, lean meats, and poultry).
Low in fat (no more than 30% of calories should come from fat, with only 10% coming from animal, or saturated, fat).