What Are the Worst Foods for Gout?
We’ve talked plenty about the “rules” and about the foods that are good for gout. But what about the foods that are not so good and should be avoided entirely? Foods that are rich in purines perhaps should be avoided – or at least moderated.
Here are some of the foods to avoid with gout:
- Organ meats, like liver, sweetbreads, and kidneys, are naturally high in purine. As you now know, foods that are high in purine can contribute to high uric acid levels.
- Red meat shouldn’t be consumed, or at least limited. Examples include pork, lamb, and beef.
- Wild game should be minimized. This includes venison, duck, and veal.
- Gravy should also be limited.
- Alcohol may increase the risk of gout – but it depends on the type of spirit selected. Beer and liquor appear to increase the risk of developing gout, as well as subsequent exacerbations. These specific liquors contain purines. However, wine does not seem to carry the same risk. During an attack, all alcohol should be limited. This is because all alcohol can be dehydrating.
- Sugary foods should be limited. This includes many of your favorite breakfast cereals and desserts.
- Sugary beverages should also be limited. If the label says “fructose” do not drink it. These beverages are thought to increase the risk for an exacerbation.
The Gout Diet: Foods That Are Still up for Debate
There are several foods that are up for debate about whether they are good or bad for people living with gout. They are:
- High purine vegetables appear to be fine to eat. Although their purine contact is high, they do not seem to raise uric acid levels. Examples include asparagus and spinach.
- Certain seafood may be high in purine as well. However, the health benefits of seafood may outweigh the risks. Examples include sardines, tuna, and shellfish. Discuss specifics with your physician.
What Else Can Trigger Gout Symptoms?
Consuming a high-purine diet is undoubtedly the biggest “trigger” for gout. However, if you’ve been successfully eliminating food triggers and your symptoms are out-of-control, what else may be causing your symptoms?
As we’ve discussed, proper hydration is important. If you’re not drinking enough water on a regular basis, your uric acid levels can become high regularly. You should drink at least eight 8 oz. glasses of water every day to keep your hydration levels high.
Certain medications are known to trigger an exacerbation. For example, these medications include cyclosporine, diuretics, and beta-blockers. When starting new medications, inform your physician that you have gout to ensure that a new medication does not increase your risk for development of an exacerbation.
Medical stress can increase your risk of an exacerbation drastically. Anything that requires hospitalization – becoming ill or requiring surgery, for example – can increase your risk of a flare-up. Ensure that you discuss this with your physician. If you take preventive medications for gout, ask that they are continued during hospitalization.
The Bottom Line…
Following a gout diet to reduce your gout symptoms and prevent an exacerbation does not need to be hard. Remember that the goal is not to be “perfect” 100 percent of the time!
You can eat what you want – even if you are consuming a food high in purine on occasion. The goal is to follow the guidelines most of the time to prevent an exacerbation from occurring.
If you're unsure on how to begin your gout diet journey, making an appointment with a registered dietitian may help you find ways to incorporate a gout diet slowly into your routine (rather than reinforce it right away), how to swap out your favorite foods for more gout-friendly alternatives, and much more. Registered dietitians may also help keep track of your diet progress and offer advice on where and how you can improve in dietary approach.