What is gout and what causes it?
Gout is a type of arthritis caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood. These levels cause crystals to form in joints, causing pain and swelling (typically in fingers or feet). Uric acid is a waste product formed from breaking down purines in our diet. Purines are the building blocks of protein. So, diets with large amounts of proteins will lead to high levels of uric acid.
Is it caused by my weight?
Certainly, research has shown that maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the risk of attacks. Actually, if you’re overweight, even a 10% reduction can reduce the risk of gout attacks (for example dropping from 150kg to 135kg). However, crash dieting and rapid weight loss over a short period of time have been shown to increase uric acid levels and cause a gout attack, so it’s important to be sensible about any change in your diet.
What foods cause gout?
Purines are found in our food supply (in animal-based proteins). Consuming large quantities (300g+/meal) of these foods regularly, leads to an increase in uric acid production and higher risk of gout attacks. Also, richer forms of these meats (eg. duck, offal, shellfish or sardines) contain a higher concentration of purines and should be avoided if you experience gout regularly. It’s not imperative you become vegetarian, rather simply be careful of your meat portion sizes. Sweet beverages with high amounts of added sugars, such as soft drink, juice, flavoured milks, iced teas, etc, have also been linked to increased gout. It’s always best to drink crystal clear H2O.
What about alcohol?
Alcohol is probably the most widely known cause of gout attacks. Certainly in people who experience gout, there is a 93% increase in attacks in drinkers compared with non-drinkers. Large quantities of beer (>5 beers/day) can increase gout attacks by 250%. While 2 standard glasses of wine don’t appear to increase gout attacks. During a flare up, 100% alcohol abstinence is recommended, as it severely limits the excretion of uric acid through the kidneys, making the pain more severe and longer in duration.
What can I eat that will reduce gout attacks?
The simple answer is a diet containing large amounts of fruit, vegetables, wholegrain breads, cereals, legumes, lentils, low fat dairy and small portions of lean proteins. Be careful with portion size of proteins particularly. 96% of Australian adults don’t consume enough vegetables, and certainly an increase in Vitamin C intake has been shown to lower gout attacks.
Sure, but what should I eat, specifically?
Our team of experienced dietitians can offer you evidence based advice and provide effective, practical strategies tailored individually for your particular needs. It’s best to book a session with one of our team members
We have some great recipes on the SS Diets website which have been designed specifically for this. It’s best however to book in a session with one of our dietitians and get the right advice that’s best for you!