DIET AND FITNESS:

Foods to Avoid --and Enjoy --with  
Gout

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September 24,  2012, last updated September 12, 2014

By Alison Turner,   Featured Columnist





Gout was once known as the “disease of kings”  because the
disease could only be afforded by those wealthy enough to
enjoy a steady diet of alcohol, meat, and fatty foods.  Today,
gout is suffered by 3.9% of Americans.  Optimistic readers
may interpret this high number of people with gout as an
indication of increasing democracy: the United States, a
country where anyone can get gout!  

However, in 2011  scholar Hyon Choi with the Boston
University School of Medicine and other experts conducted a
prevalence study on gout in the United States, which
revealed not only the alarming percentage quoted above, but
also that gout is increasing.  What is the “disease of kings”
and what can we do to avoid its not-so-noble consequences?

Gout is a type of
arthritis that causes inflammation in either
one joint (acute gout), or in many joints (chronic gout,
which not only affects several joints but also involves
repeated inflammations).  Some attacks of gout are so
severe that patients wake in the middle of the night with the
fear that (seriously) their toe is on fire.   

Inflammation from gout occurs because uric acid (the
chemical created when the body breaks down substances
called purines)  gathers in the fluid around the joints and
uric acid crystals form.   The most common joints that are
affected by gout are the big toe, the knee, and ankle joints.  
In addition to swelling, symptoms of gout include pain and
redness in the affected area and fever. Gout can also make
your
feet feel warm.   If gout becomes chronic for many
years, a condition called "tophi" --- lumps below the skin ---
may develop and drain chalky material. (Read more about
causes of a warm feeling in your foot.)

Who Gets Gout, and How Can it be Prevented?  

The exact cause of gout is unknown, though experts suspect
it may run in families.  While anyone can get gout, men are
more susceptible.  Gout also is likely to develop in people
with conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and kidney
disease, or in people taking medications that interfere with
the body’s removal of uric acid.  If you think (or know) that
you have gout, there are several options for treatment.  
Different forms of medication may be prescribed by your
physician, such as anti-inflammatory drugs, painkillers, or
drugs that decrease uric acid levels in the blood.

Fortunately, there are a few lifestyle changes we can make
now to avoid getting gout later (or to help to treat gout if
we already have it).  We can limit how much we eat and
change what we eat.  Many people with gout are
recommended to follow a low-purine diet, because while
purines naturally exist in all of our cells and foods, some
foods have concentrated amounts of purines , the excessive
consumption of which could lead to the buildup of uric acid.  
Read the list below of ten foods that encourage a low-purine
diet, (either foods that you should eat, or foods to avoid) to
help decrease your risk from contracting the notorious
disease of kings.




























1.        
Say Bye-Bye to Beer.  While it may be hard to
continue reading, rather than to ignore the title to this
section and pretend like you never saw it, it’s true: the
consumption of beer may increase our odds for gout.
In 2007, researchers in Taiwan, led by Kuang-Hui Yu  with
the Division of Rheumatology at the Chang Gung Memorial
Hospital in Tao-Yuan, analyzed data from over 2,000 adults
who participated in The Nutrition and Health Survey in
Taiwan that took place between 1993 and 1996. Numbers
showed that the consumption of beer was “significantly
associated with hyperuricemia in men,” so that “restricted
beer intake may help prevent hyperuricemia in the
population.”  

Who cares about hyperuricemia, you may ask?  You do, if
you’re worried about gout.  Hyperuricemia means that the
blood has abnormally high level of uric acid, which is the
product that remains after breaking down purine.  
Hyperuricemia can indicate an increased risk of gout, though
some people do get gout with normal or low blood uric acid
levels.

So remember, each pint counts. Rather than ignoring this
admittedly tragic information, perhaps think about ways that
you can cut back on the brews.

2.
Animal Products Pack a High-Purine Punch.   Foods that
are considered “high” in purine range from 150 to 1,000
milligrams of purine per 100 grams of food.   The Mayo Clinic
lists that the reduction of meat and poultry in our diet is the
number one change we can make to decrease our risk for
gout:  foods such as “organ meats” (kidney, liver, brain, and
heart)  all fall into the range of “high” amounts of purine.

The risk of excessive purine from meat, particularly organ
parts, was confirmed earlier this year by a team of
researchers led by Yuqing Zhang with the  Boston University
School of Medicine.  633 people with gout were followed for
one year, and an analysis of their diet suggests that “acute
purine intake increases the risk of recurrent gout attacks by
almost fivefold among gout patients.”  The team also found
that high purine foods of animal origins make a particularly
large difference on the likelihood of gout attacks, so that
especially avoiding these foods “may help reduce the risk of
gout attacks.”

The Mayo Clinic recommends that our amount of meat and
poultry be limited to 4 to 6 ounces per day.   While this
doesn’t mean that you need to bring your meat-measurers
with you to the dinner table, it does mean that you could
keep an eye on how much meat you’re consuming –
especially if you think you’re at risk for gout.

3.  
Vegetarians:  Not Off the Hook for Gout.  So, if we just
don’t eat meat (see above), we should be fine, right? –
wrong.  Lots of foods that vegetarians may eat as a source
of protein are high in purine, such as kidney beans, lima
beans, and lentils .  Furthermore, even imitation meats have
purine, though some more than others.

In 2010, experts from the Czech Republic and Spain,
including Jaraslav Havlik with the Department of
Microbiology at the Czech University of Life Sciences in
Prague,  joined forces to analyze the purine levels of thirty-
nine “commercially available” vegetarian meat alternatives.  
Their data revealed that total purine content was “relatively
higher” in mycoprotein and soybean products, and lower in
wheat protein and egg white-based products.  The latter,
they conclude, are thus “more suitable for dietary
considerations in a low-purine diet.”  

If you’re vegetarian and concerned about gout, you better
start reading the labels on the veggie burgers.

4.
Pop: Bad.  Diet Pop? Better.


Continue reading page 1 page 2



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You may have to give up orange juice if you have
gout.