What Role Does Diet Play in Gout Management?
Changing your diet alone isn’t enough to stop gout attacks.
The Role of Purines and Uric Acid
People who follow even the strictest low-purine diet will reduce their uric acid levels by only a small amount. Larry Edwards, MD, vice chairman and professor, department of medicine at the University of Florida in Gainesville says, “You can lower your uric acid a little bit – by no more than 1 mg/dL – but that’s not going to get most people who have clinical symptoms of gout into the range that they’re going to stop having flares.”
For a person not taking urate-lowering medicine, a more restricted diet can decrease the number of food trigger flares they have. Dr. Edwards says, “If patients cut back on beer binges and shrimp boils, it will cut down on the number of flares they have, but it’s not going to cure their gout.”
Once patients have been on a urate-lowering drug for a while and reach the target SUA of <6 mg/dL, they won’t have to be so restrictive with their food because the disease is controlled with medication.
Diet or Genetics?
- Race: African Americans are more prone to gout than whites.
- Age: Your risk of gout gets higher with age.
- Sex: Younger men are four times more likely to develop gout than women; and after the age of 65, men are three times more likely to develop gout than women.
- Genes: Some people are predisposed to have higher uric acid levels and a lower ability to eliminate uric acid.
Even though a low-purine diet alone won’t cure you of gout. Eating well and reaching a healthy weight will decrease your overall risk of gout and the complications of metabolic syndrome by preventing gout flares and helping lower uric acid numbers.
Patients should focus on foods that will benefit their overall health and lower their risk of metabolic syndrome: plant-based proteins, vegetables, fruits and nuts. Being careful and limiting intake of foods that increase uric acid levels - like red meat, beer, liquor, and high fructose corn syrup - will also help gout medicine be more effective and prevent flares.
Diagnosed With Gout?
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