Top Foods to Avoid If You Have Gout

Mar 17, 2023
Top Foods to Avoid If You Have Gout
Gout isn’t an illness of the past. Many people struggle with it today and don’t know how best to manage it. But by avoiding certain foods, you can start to see a real difference in the severity and frequency of your flare-ups.

There are many reasons you might suddenly begin to experience foot pain. And while you may know some of them, you may not have considered gout. If you are a middle-aged or older adult with painful flare-ups that cause intense swelling, you might be dealing with gout. 

At Southwest Foot & Ankle in Scottsdale, Arizona, Petrina C. Lewis, DPM, FACFAS, and Mark T. Lewis, DPM, FACFAS, want to help you be as comfortable and healthy as possible while living with gout. Here they hope to empower you by providing a list of foods to avoid, because managing your condition starts with you. 

Living with gout 

Gout is a type of arthritis that causes painful swelling around your joints. Usually, it starts in your big toe. It happens because purines — found in your body as well as in many of the foods you eat — break down into a substance called urate. When urate builds up too much in your body, it can create crystals in your joints that become very painful. 

Gout isn’t a disease of the past. The prevalence of gout is as high as 6.8% in some populations while western countries, like the United States, might see numbers as high as 10%. If you have been diagnosed with gout, unfortunately, there’s no cure. However, there are things you can do to better manage it, starting with your diet.

Four foods to avoid while living with gout 

The foods you should eat to manage your gout are the typical recommendations any provider will give you. Low-fat, non-dairy foods, fruits and vegetables, fish, and nuts are all good options. But which foods do you really have to look out for? 

1. Alcohol

Alcohol is one of the big no-nos for those living with gout. Even moderate alcohol intake can lead to an increase in gout attacks and pain. This especially includes beer, which has high purine levels, but any alcohol can cause an increase in gout attacks. As such, it’s often best to avoid alcohol if you’re already dealing with gout.

If you’re struggling with giving up alcohol, it might help you to try making mocktails with friends or to find infused water recipes. This can give you flavor and fun while avoiding the alcohol content. We don’t recommend switching to non-alcoholic beer, as it often contains the same amount of purines as its alcoholic counterpart. 

2. Red meat and sweetbreads 

Rich, fatty meats are also a high source of purines, so you’ll want to avoid them. For example, red meats like beef and sweetbreads (or organ meats) are all high in purines. Pork and lamb are also better avoided. 

We recommend avoiding meats like these whenever possible, as they should only be consumed on occasion. Instead, fish or chicken can be a great alternative. 

3. Sweets 

It’s pretty much a given that overly sugary substances — like candy, desserts, and sodas — are better left on the shelf when you’re dealing with gout. This is particularly true of any food that has a lot of high fructose corn syrup, which, besides being generally unhealthy for you, is also high in purines. 

4. Processed foods 

Heavily processed foods often have a combination of inosinates and MSGs that increase the urate content in your body, which will then lead to more flare-ups. This can include anything from potato chips to fast food to frozen meals. 

Avoid gout flare-ups with a steady diet 

Eating foods that are fresh, healthy, and low in sugar is one of the best ways to manage gout. For ways we can help you deal with your pain and get more active, call Southwest Foot & Ankle today at 480-900-7399 or schedule an appointment online at your convenience.