Gout is notorious for causing “gout attacks” 一 painful episodes marked by swelling, tenderness, redness, and swelling in your toe joints. These attacks happen when uric acid crystals develop in your joints.
As a type of arthritis, gout can progress to the point of being chronic rather than just the occasional flare-ups. One of the best ways to prevent gout attacks is to avoid any food that contains high levels of purines since purines break down into uric acid in your body.
Our team of specialists here at Manhattan Podiatry Associates, PC, in Midtown and Downtown Manhattan, created this guide to help shed light on what foods are highest in purines and what you can do if you still need help managing your symptoms.
What to avoid if you have gout
Even if you don’t have an active gout flare-up, it’s important to watch what you eat and drink to help prevent future attacks. Let’s take a look at the top foods to avoid in each category:
Certain meats have high levels of purines, and because high purine levels can raise uric acid levels, it’s best to avoid them. This includes:
- Organ meat, such as liver, kidney, and sweetbreads
- Glandular meat
While you don’t have to eliminate beef, lamb, and pork, consider limiting your serving sizes.
Fish and shellfish
Just like certain meat is higher in purines, so are some types of seafood. Anchovies, shellfish, tuna in oil, crab, lobster, and sardines are higher in purines than other types of seafood. Fish is good for you, though, and is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Incorporate moderate portions of fish in your diet (excluding the ones listed above). Japanese eel and sablefish contain the lowest amounts of purines, but halibut and sea bass are okay in moderation.
Fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are an essential part of your diet as they deliver much-needed vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber. However, limit your intake of cauliflower, spinach, mushrooms, and asparagus to only one serving per day. These vegetables are higher in purines than other types of vegetables.
Fruits highest in fructose 一apples, peaches, pears, plums, grapes, prunes, and dates一 are more likely to increase uric acid levels.
If you’re currently taking colchicine, take a pass on grapefruit as that may interact with your medications.
Fructose from fruit isn’t the only sweetener that can increase uric acid levels. Honey can release purines as it breaks down, so avoid honey and other sweeteners. Additionally, skip any food that has added sweeteners such as sugary cereal, bakery items, and candy.
All alcoholic beverages can increase your risk of developing gout, and your risk increases as your intake increases. Beer is particularly problematic as it contains the highest levels of purines. Avoid beer if you’re at risk of developing gout or if you already have it.
In addition to alcohol, avoid any beverages that are overly sweetened, such as fruit punch, fruit juice, and sodas.
Be sure to drink plenty of water, though. Staying hydrated can help flush the uric acid from your system.
Get help for your gout
Even if you do your best to avoid a gout flare-up, you may still need help managing your symptoms. During a flare-up, rest, ice your affected joint, and don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it.
Here at Manhattan Podiatry Associates, we can help you prevent future gout attacks through:
- Oral corticosteroids
- Steroid injections
- Medications to help lower uric acid
- Lifestyle guidance
- Nutritional guidance
To explore your gout management options, call one of our two convenient New York City locations or book an appointment online today.