Gout Diet: Foods to Eat (and Not Eat) with Gout
Is there such a thing as a gout diet? Not really. But there are certain foods you should eat—and others you should avoid such as those high in purines—to help prevent both gout in general and gout attacks.
If you’re at risk for gout or you’re concerned about getting it, it’s a good idea to watch what you eat. And if you’ve already been diagnosed with gout and you’re looking for ways to help prevent gout attacks, you should pay attention to your diet, too. This article covers what foods to eat—and not eat—to help prevent gout and gout attacks.
Before starting a new diet, you should talk to your doctor. He or she might talk about how a poor diet may make you more at risk for gout or a gout attack if you have high levels of uric acid (called hyperuricemia) to begin with. Your doctor can also suggest ways to improve your diet.
Foods to Eat to Help Prevent Gout and Gout Attacks
It’s thought that some foods can help lower uric acid levels, thus reducing your risk of gout or a gout attack.
Below are some of the most well-studied foods that may help prevent gout. They may also help prevent gout attacks.
Cherries: Antioxidant-rich cherries have been linked to decreased levels of uric acid, but researchers aren’t sure whether eating them has any impact on signs and symptoms of gout. A study published in 2003 in the Journal of Nutrition confirmed that incorporating cherries into your diet may help lower your risk of gout because they help reduce inflammatory markers in the body.1
Coffee: Good news for coffee lovers. Research has shown that the more coffee you drink, the less likely you are to develop gout. This counts for all the regular and decaf coffee drinkers out there! A 2010 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at 89,433 women who participated in the Nurses’ Health Study. The study found that drinking coffee long-term is linked to an overall lower risk of gout.2 No one knows exactly why coffee has such an impact on your risk for gout, but researchers continue to investigate this link.
Dairy: Eating low-fat dairy products, such as low-fat yogurt, can significantly decrease your risk of getting gout. One 2004 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that incorporating more dairy in your diet is linked to a reduced risk of gout.3
Vitamin C: A 2009 Archives of Internal Medicine prospective study showed that an increased amount of vitamin C is linked to a lower risk of gout. The same study also found that vitamin C supplements may be beneficial for preventing gout.4 It’s thought that vitamin C supplements can help reduce the levels of uric acid in your blood. What does this mean for you? You should eat foods abundant in vitamin C such as fruits and vegetables and consider taking a vitamin C supplement. But beware: Too much vitamin C can actually increase the levels of uric acid in your body, so talk to your doctor about incorporating vitamin C supplements into your diet.
Water: Although this isn’t technically a food, you should be drinking plenty of water to help prevent gout or a gout attack. Staying hydrated with water is important because it can help flush out excess uric acid and prevent uric acid crystals from forming.
Although these foods can help make a difference in lowering your uric acid levels, you need to check your expectations. Gout can be caused by a combination of factors—not just a poorly balanced diet.
Foods to Avoid with Gout
Some foods can increase the uric acid levels in your body, which may make it more likely that you’ll develop gout or a gout attack.
When you hear people talk about gout and diet, they’re most likely talking about purines—substances that are found in foods high in protein. Eating too many foods abundant in purines can increase your chances of getting gout or having a gout attack.
Foods high in purines include:
- Organ meats such as liver and beef kidneys
- Certain types of seafood such as shrimp and scallops
You may have read that you should limit plant-based foods high in purines such as peas, dried beans, asparagus, and mushrooms. While it’s true that doctors used to recommend that people at risk for gout limit these foods, a 2004 New England Journal of Medicine found that there’s no direct link between developing gout and eating these foods. The study found that eating protein or vegetables rich in purines in moderation is not linked to an increased risk of gout.3
The same 2004 study confirmed that eating an increased amount of meat and seafood are linked to an increased risk of gout.3
In addition to avoiding high-purine foods, you should also limit the amount of alcohol—especially beer—you drink. Researchers found that beer can increase uric acid levels in the blood.5 Also, alcohol can dehydrate you, and it interferes with the removal of uric acid from the body, which gets excreted in your urine.
Also, limit foods high in sugar—especially high fructose corn syrup. Foods that have high fructose corn syrup include highly processed foods and baked goods.
Start Your Gout Prevention Diet Today
It’s important to better balance your diet because it can help prevent both gout and gout attacks. Additionally, being overweight is a risk factor for gout, but eating a well-balanced diet can help you maintain a healthy weight.
If you follow a low-purine diet for gout but still develop gout or gout attacks, talk to your doctor about other treatments, such as medications, you can try to help prevent a future attack.