A number of factors can trigger gout, but without question, the most preventable cause is what we choose to put into our bodies. Our diet is often the biggest contributing factor in whether we develop certain conditions, and therefore it can also be the answer to preventing them.
What is gout?
Gout is a form of arthritis caused by a build-up of uric acid leading to painful inflammation of joints – particularly those of the lower part of limbs such as toes, fingers, ankles, and knees.
The symptoms of gout will be instantly recognisable even if you haven’t suffered from it previously.
Most prominently it will begin with sharp pain in a joint – most often the “bunion joint” of the big toe.
Other symptoms include:
Swelling, redness, and tenderness from inflammation
Severe and lingering pain
Limited motion of the affected joint
If you notice any of these symptoms, it might be smart to start thinking about what you’re eating.
Foods to avoid if you suffer from gout
The simplest way to prevent a flare-up is to be mindful of the foods you eat, as there are a number that contain high amounts of purine, which can lead to a build-up of uric acid. The main culprits are:
It’s no surprise that foods with high fructose or sugar content are bad for you. But for those susceptible to gout, these foods should be especially avoided as they break down into uric acid.
Alcohol prevents your body from expelling uric acid, which results in accumulation. Beer in particular should be avoided as it contains yeast, which is a secondary trigger of the condition.
Certain seafood should be limited due to their high purine content. These include anchovies, codfish, haddock, herring, mackerel, mussels, roe, sardines, scallops, and trout. For those who need an omega-3 boost in their diet, fish-oil tablets are a good alternative.
Red meats, game, and offal
For those prone to gout, it’s best to steer clear of meats such as liver and kidneys, veal and venison, beef, and pork. Turkey can also be high in purines, but chicken is a good alternative.
Drink more water. Keeping well-hydrated helps prevent the build-up of uric acid in your blood by expelling it more frequently.
Lose weight. This reduces the stress on your joints, reducing overall pain levels.
Eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. This allows you to enjoy healthier, sweet treats without consuming high-fructose products.
These should be lean and low in saturated fats, such as chicken and low-fat dairy products.
Vitamin C. Even supplements can help reduce uric acid levels.
Highly caffeinated coffee beverages may be linked to reduced risk of gout – although these need to be consumed in moderation.
Tweaking your diet and exercise routine can do wonders to reduce your chances of an episode, and, in turn, increase the quality of your overall health. Start cutting back on some of the chief offenders to decrease the impact gout has on your life.