What is a good diet for gout?
During Tudor times, gout was considered a disease of the rich because it was typically caused by foods that only the wealthy had lots of access to, such as meat and alcohol. Whilst these foods were once available only to those who could afford it, they can now be bought by anyone in their local supermarket, meaning the problem has become much more common.
Dietary changes can help gout, particularly if it isn't triggered by the likes of liver or kidney problems, but what kind of changes should you make? To help answer this question, this blog takes a look at:
- The top 5 foods for gout
- Foods that can trigger gout symptoms
- Other helpful food and drinks for anyone with gout
- Handy recipe ideas.
Top 5 foods for gout
Let's have a quick look at which foods have the most to offer sufferers of gout, and why.
1. Cherries and berries
When consumed regularly, the colourful flavonoids in these fruits reduce the formation of uric acid crystals in joints.1 This means cherries and berries can be a useful addition to the diet for anyone prone to gout in order to keep frequent attacks at bay.
2. Grains, pulses and beans
These healthy foods contain fibre which is known to improve insulin resistance, which can have a part to play in gout attacks. They are also rich in nutrients to keep the body healthy and functioning well.
This helps to dilute concentrations of uric acid and supports the kidneys in eliminating more toxins from the body. Try to consume at least 2 litres a day of this wonder substance. If you need a little assistance with this, take a look at Nutritionist Emma's blog '12 tips to help you drink more water'.
Low-fat dairy products like cottage cheese and skimmed milk are good sources of protein, so they make a good substitute if you have to reduce your intake of meat and fish products when suffering from gout.
Plus, these are naturally low in purines, substances found in foods that are converted into uric acid.
Although fruit contains fructose which can raise uric acid levels, the likes of oranges, grapefruit and strawberries have lower overall levels. This, in addition to the fact they contain loads of vitamin C, makes them a good option for gout sufferers.
Vitamin C is known to reduce uric acid levels and thus lowers the risk of gout.2 You can top up your vitamin C intake further by taking a natural vitamin C supplement.
What food and drinks trigger gout flare ups?
There are various foods that can contribute to a gout flare-up, including:
- Red meat
- Organ meat - including liver, kidneys and heart
- Game - like venison, duck and rabbit
- Alcohol (especially beer)
- Seafood and fish pastes
These are all high in purines which lead to excess uric acid-forming in the blood. Excess uric acid can't be removed properly by people who suffer from gout, meaning it can build-up and contribute to another attack.
To reduce the chance of developing gout, or to help manage symptoms that have taken hold, avoid consuming any of these foods and drinks more than once a day, and try to have every third day entirely free of any of them.
Sugar substitutes like glucose and fructose syrup, as well as highly sweetened fizzy drinks, are also something you should be wary of. Research has shown that these can increase the risk of developing gout.3
It is a good idea to choose natural sweeteners such as stevia or xylitol instead of high fructose corn syrups and glucose-fructose syrups (which are found in fizzy drinks, breakfast cereals, spreads and sauces) as these destabilise blood sugar through insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a known factor in gout attacks.
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What can you eat and drink with gout?
You might be thinking that, with all these foods off the menu, there is a limited selection left to choose from. However, let me tell you that you still have plenty of tasty and beneficial options, including:
- Root vegetables
- Soya foods
- Cottage cheese
- Skimmed milk
- Herbal teas.
If you need a little help incorporating these foods into tasty and fulfilling meals, have a look at our recipe hub for inspiration. To get you started, I've put a 1 day, gout-friendly meal plan below.
A gout-friendly meal plan
Baked Berry Oatmeal
Spiced Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Easy Black Bean Chilli (vegan & gluten free)
Cherry Crumble Bars
Nuts & Seeds
Originally published 14 May 2015 (updated 19 February 2020)