Gout Diet: Dos and Don’ts

Maintaining a balanced diet, low in uric acid, is critical for lowering the risk of a gout attack. Learn which foods and beverages you should eat and which ones to avoid.

1. What You Eat and Drink Matters
You know that keeping uric acid levels below 6 mg/dl helps to reduce your chance of having a gout attack. Here are a few suggestions about what foods to eat and avoid to best manage your gout. Get more nutrition information and support in managing gout pain with our pain resources.
2. DO: Drink Water
Glug, glug, glug. Drink at least 8 glasses of nonalcoholic beverages a day – plain water is best. And if you’re having a flare, increase your intake to 16 glasses a day. The water helps flush uric acid from your system.
3. DON’T: Drink Beer
Popping that cold one is not a good idea. Beer has a high purine content, which is converted to uric acid in the body. And a study found that alcoholic beer raises uric acid by 6.5% and nonalcoholic beer raises it 4.4%.
4. DO: Drink Milk
Does a tall glass of cold milk or some frozen yogurt sound good? Go ahead. Studies show that drinking low-fat milk and eating low-fat dairy can reduce your uric acid levels and risk of a gout attack. The proteins found in milk promote excretion of uric acid in the urine.
5. DON’T: Drink Liquor
Put down the highball. Alcoholic beverages can increase the risk of gout attacks. When the body breaks down alcohol, uric acid is produced and excretion of uric acid in the urine is slowed down. But most studies show that wine may be okay to drink in moderation.
6. DO: Drink Coffee
Love your morning cuppa joe? Enjoy! Long-term coffee drinkers (4-6 cups per day) have less risk of developing gout than people who don’t enjoy the popular brew. Coffee’s ability to prevent recurring attacks of gout once you’ve had one bout are not as certain.
7. DON’T: Drink Soda
Fructose is a sugar naturally found in fruit and honey. It is broken down in the body to release purines. The man-made sweetener high fructose corn syrup is found in many soft drinks. People who drink sweet drinks (including sugary soda and fruit juice) are more likely to have gout. And studies show that fructose increases serum acid levels.
8. Do: Eat Citrus
Vitamin C decreases uric acid levels and can help prevent gout attacks. Most studies suggest getting at least 500 mg per day. Since fruit also contains fructose, which is linked with increased uric acid levels, opt for lower-fructose options. Grapefruit, oranges, pineapples and strawberries are high in vitamin C, but lower in fructose.
9. DON’T: Eat Organ Meats
You may love liver and onions, but eating it may trigger a flare. Organ meats (sweetbreads, liver, tongue) are particularly high in purines, which can increase your uric acid levels and spur a gout attack. Red meats (beef, venison, bison) in general are higher in purines than white meats and should be eaten only occasionally.
10. DO: Eat Vegetable Proteins
Fill up on lots of green veggies and other non-meat proteins. That means peas, beans, lentils, tofu as well as leafy and starchy greens. They don’t raise uric acid levels and may even protect you from gout attacks.
11. DON’T: Eat Certain Seafood
Not all creatures of the sea are high in purines, but some are. Cold water fish like tuna, salmon and trout can increase your uric acid levels, but the heart benefit from eating them in moderation may be greater than the gout attack risk. Mussels, scallops, squid, shrimp, oysters, crab and lobsters should only be eaten once in a while.
12. DO: Eat Cherries
Eating tart cherries – or drinking tart cherry juice -- may lower your risk of gout attacks. The red-purple pigments in the fruit – called anthocyanins – have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and are thought to provide protection.

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