Is your joint pain interfering with your day-to-day life? Gout could be the cause of your joint pain. You can easily avoid flare-ups and minimize the chances of a musculoskeletal disability. You just need to pay special attention to what you eat. Turns out food can be medicine.
Let’s discuss foods that you should have and ones to avoid when talking about gout. Can a cup of your morning coffee alter the pain? What about fish? We’re discussing all that and more…
But before we begin what exactly is gout?
Gout is one of the many forms of arthritis. Like other symptoms, gout also shows signs of pain and swelling in the joints. It may or may not be accompanied by a rise in the joint temperature. Adult men are more commonly affected than women.
People who have gout might commonly have swelling at the base of the big toe. Ankles, knees, wrists, fingers, and elbows can also get painful.
The most common reason for gout is hyperuricemia (hyper-you-ruh-see-me-uh). Chronically increased levels of urate or uric acid in the blood lead to gout. It could be genetic. But it’s not a rule that once you develop hyperuricemia you would have gout. Almost two-thirds of those who have hyperuricemia never even develop the symptoms of gout.
Your kidneys can be responsible, too, for increasing uric acid in your blood. Kidneys are constantly filtering blood in your system. They excrete waste products and reabsorb nutrients. But when they fail to excrete uric acid due to renal diseases and heavy usage of painkillers, things become problematic. Their compromised functioning typically leads to the collection of uric acid in the synovial fluid around your joints. The pain generally starts at night and stays for a good 3- 10 days.
The medical world manages this inflammatory condition with urate-lowering therapy steroids, colchicine, or anti-inflammatory drugs. But the right foods can help you if you want to avoid the need for all these treatments. Dietary modifications can definitely reduce the severity and keep your uric acid level under 6 mg per deciliter.
Want to know what foods can help? How often do you actually go to a salad bar?
Fresh vegetables work wonders to reduce uric acid levels. They are also low in purines. The digestion of purine-rich foods produces uric acid and in turn, increases the chances of inflammation. Your body has natural purines but the amount is quite low. When you start getting purine from your food it is termed as an exogenous purine source.
Try making delicious salads using cabbage, squash, red bell peppers, beetroot, and beans. Load your fridge with carrots and cucumbers to munch on. They will give you enough nutrients to power through the day and reduce inflammation. Just remember to keep the creamy dressings and croutons out of your salads. That way it will be low in calories, keep you fuller for a long time and curb your hunger. A few vegetables like asparagus, mushroom, cauliflower, spinach, peas, and lentils might be a little high on the purine content. So have them in moderation.
Grab a few fruits the next time you are out grocery shopping.
Having bright and colorful fruits comes with a host of benefits for people suffering from gout. They are nutritionally dense and packed with antioxidants. Fruits can be a healthy replacement for all those candies and cakes.
Stick to the citrus fruits like cherries, oranges, pineapples, strawberries, and grapefruit. They can help to alkalize your body. You can make stunning fruit platters with these. All these fruits are packed with Vitamin C which combats the uric acid levels in your body. If you find your symptoms worsening after eating any one of these fruits then it’s a clear indication that they might not suit you.
Did you know having 10 cherries every day can reduce your risk of a gout attack by 35%? Fresh cherries boost the anti-inflammatory process. Research says having cherries with gout medication can further reduce gout attacks by 75%. That’s fascinating!
Pineapples contain a known anti-inflammatory called bromelain that can reduce gout flare-ups. But stay away from pineapple juice and desserts. They’ll have added sugar.
Need variety? Then try eating ripe papaya, it’s best eaten fresh. You can make salads, spreads, and jams from papaya.
Sweet and crisp apples are also loaded with Vitamin C and other essential nutrients. Whether you have it sliced, air fried, in applesauce, or as apple cider vinegar they are the easiest way to reduce a flare-up of gout.
One fruit that might be tricky to eat when you have gout is tomatoes. Yes, it’s a fruit and it might be a trigger for uric acid levels. But it’s not true for everyone. A few might find tomatoes helpful for reducing inflammation.
Another superfood that might look like a vegetable but is actually a fruit is avocado. No doubt it is a fatty fruit but we’re talking about good fats like oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid. Studies show oleic acid to have amazing antioxidant properties to reduce inflammation. Besides, the potassium from avocados helps excrete uric acid from the body. Having chopped avocados in salads or blending them into smoothies is not the only way to enjoy them. Avocado oil is also gaining popularity among health enthusiasts due to its added benefits. Researchers have noted a stark reduction in symptoms of arthritis and osteoarthritis. So give it a try.
Is yogurt your breakfast staple?
Breakfast is the best place to start loading up on anti-inflammatory foods. Yogurt is low purine food and is easy to include in your gout diet. It will prevent the formation of new uric acid crystals and dissolve existing ones. Avoid flavored yogurt and stick to Greek. The low-fat variety will help you to make the most of it. Top your yogurt with the fruit we discussed a minute ago to make a perfectly balanced breakfast.
Switch to other low-fat dairy products like milk. Many popular kinds of cheese like cream cheese, Mozzarella, cottage, parmesan, feta, and cheddar are available in a low or no-fat version also. They’ll give you a lot of proteins and lower the saturated fat in your blood.
Is your morning incomplete without your favorite coffee?
You can safely have coffee in spite of having gout. Coffee not only boosts your energy levels but can lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and Parkinson’s disease. It’s a great source of antioxidants in the classic American diet and can keep away inflammation. Surprisingly research also showed a reduction in uric acid levels in female coffee drinkers. So get brewing, ladies.
But do you have an irresistible love for tea?
We are not talking about the regular kind. We’re talking about green tea. It has clearly become the most popular drink worldwide with billions of health folks consuming it daily. Antioxidants like ECGC, catechins, and gallic acid present in green tea are the best bioavailable compounds to keep arthritis-like gout away. You can safely have two to four cups of unsweetened green tea each day.
Do you eat enough whole grains?
Oats, barley, brown rice, and wheat germ bring more goodness to your body in contrast to other grains. Refined grains are stripped of bran and germ. These make great sources of antioxidants, fiber, and beneficial nutrients.
Whole grains are a part of the DASH diet. Scientists believe the DASH diet has an anti-inflammatory effect on gout. Try to add millet, quinoa, buckwheat, sorghum, and spelt to your salads to enrich them with a hearty and chewy texture.
Can dehydration impact your pain?
Yes, it definitely can. Don’t forget to drown these foods with plenty of water. It will help to flush uric acid crystals from your system and keep you gout-free. Try to drink 8 to 16 glasses of water and stay hydrated. It will prevent the risk of kidney stones as well.
Studies show people drinking a half-gallon of water experienced a considerable reduction in gout attacks. You can use online reminder apps and avoid dehydration. Make sure you drink so much water that you have to use the bathroom about every 2 hours in the daytime.
Now let’s move to what you should absolutely avoid
Do you love sugary drinks?
It’s refreshing to pop open a can of soda and chug it down on a hot summer’s day. Many times meals also feel incomplete without this bubbly drink. The sugar in soft drinks makes them so addictive that it gets difficult to go one day without them.
Studies have shown sugar-sweetened beverages to increase the risk of gout attacks despite being low in purine. Diet versions of soft drinks are also not a good choice as artificial sweeteners have an equally harmful effect. Think again while adding that dollop of honey to your all-healthy smoothie. Honey is saturated with fructose in spite of being a natural sweetener. Avoid store-bought fruit juices. Fruit juices containing agave or high fructose corn syrup should also be avoided.
We know we said fruits are healthy some time back but be very careful of the fructose-rich fruits. Bananas, mangoes, grapes, raisins, and watermelons are not gout friendly. Just to be safe, never exceed one serving of fruit at a time.
Make sure you are investing in the right foods
It’s no secret that processed foods are unhealthy and filled with empty calories. Despite having written “plant-based or highly nutritious” on the packaging, you have to be careful. Pizza, chips, cakes, cookies, white bread, frozen meals, and ice cream cannot match the nutrient content of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
Junk food is rich in carbs. Your body requires complex carbs from whole grains. Simple carbs from processed food are actually not required. They not only increase your chances of gout but also type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
The high sodium content in the savory foods will also cause water retention in your feet and hands. While you are aiming at effective filtration through the kidneys, high sodium might be a big obstacle and cause uric acid accumulation.
Another interesting study showed soy products cause a minimal increase in uric acid levels whereas soy sauces that contained yeast could dangerously increase uric acid levels. So never skip reading the list of ingredients.
One more food that you might want to avoid is red meat.
Try to cut back on beef and game meats like veal, venison, and bison. Also, organ meats like liver, kidney, heart, tongue, and sweetbreads have been associated with additional inflammation. These nonvegetarian foods are loaded with purines and therefore have a direct link with elevated uric acid levels. Substitute your bacon, hot dogs, and sausages with white meat like chicken, and keep the portion size under 3 oz. Remember to source the majority of your proteins from dairy, lentils, beans, and vegetables.
If you are a pescetarian I am sure you must be familiar with the multitude of health benefits seafood can get to the table.
Choose fish that are low in purines. Fish like cod, halibut, sardines, tuna, muscles, and trout should be avoided.
A few fish like salmon and tuna are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. Research shows that this compound can reduce inflammation. But not all Omega 3s are alike. This compound needs to be converted to DHA and EPA to get the maximum anti-inflammatory properties. But some people are not able to convert omega 3. Having fish for these people can go in the complete opposite direction.
Thinking of unwinding on a weekend with a cold one?
You might want to be careful. Beer, hard liquor, and grain alcohol are potentially damaging for people with gout. It’s not my reasoning, it’s the research. Apparently, these types of alcohol are moderate purine-based foods that cause gout flare-ups. Alcohol quickly turns into sugar and elevates uric acid levels. Spirits might have low purine levels whereas regular beer has the highest. Wine is a different game altogether. You can have one to two glasses of red wine safely without dramatically increasing your uric acid levels. And just to be safe, have a word with your doctor.
If you really want to enjoy a gout-free life, dietary modifications might just not be enough. Exercising, getting enough sleep, weight loss, and avoiding tobacco can catapult you to a disease-free life.
Are you motivated to work out? Some miraculous exercises start showing results just after doing them once. You seriously need to give them a try.