What foods are beneficial for gout?
Gout is a type of arthritis that can cause swelling and pain in your joints. It’s caused by high levels of uric acid building up in the joints. Gout usually affects the big toe but can also affect other joints, such as your ankles, fingers, and knees.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that gout can be managed and treated with medication and lifestyle changes. Certain foods can help prevent future flares of gout and reduce your symptoms.
- low fat dairy
- whole grains
The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMSD) recommends people with gout eat plenty of vegetables. Vegetables can add fiber to your diet and help prevent gout flare-ups.
- Brussels sprouts
Cherries and other fruits
There is some evidence, including a 2019 study, that eating cherries may improve gout symptoms.
In the studies, people regularly drinking cherry extract or juice had fewer gout flare-ups. You may need to consume cherries or cherry juice often to get the benefits.
Low fat dairy
The calcium and vitamin D in low fat dairy products like yogurt, cheese, and milk may help with gout.
Whole grains such as oats, quinoa, and brown rice are high in fiber and are recommended as gout-friendly food.
The DASH way of eating is especially helpful for people who have gout and high blood pressure. A DASH diet includes lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
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Foods to avoid with gout
Research suggests that a diet high in red and processed meat, sweet foods, and refined grains can make gout worse.
If you have gout, limiting the following foods can be helpful.
Foods high in purine
The CDC says that eating foods rich in purine can cause high levels of uric acid. The body breaks purine down into uric acid.
Foods high in purine include:
- organ meat
- red meat
- some types of seafood, such as sardines, scallops, and trout
If you have gout, the CDC suggests limiting your alcohol intake. Beer and hard liquor can be especially unhelpful for people with gout.
Alcohol can increase uric acid levels, and may trigger gout flare-ups. Alcoholic drinks are high in purines.
Foods high in fructose
Fructose is a type of sugar. The CDC recommends that people with gout avoid consuming many high fructose foods.
Foods high in fructose include:
- cookies and cakes
- fruit juices
- some cereals
Refined carbohydrates and ultra-processed foods
Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries, and ultra-processed foods like french fries, can be unhelpful for gout. Research suggests that these foods can worsen gout symptoms and trigger flares.
Medical treatment for gout
You may be offered medication to manage gout. According to the CDC, some medications your doctor may recommend could include:
- Anti-inflammatory medications: You can often get anti-inflammatory medications over the counter (OTC) from a pharmacy. These medications can help reduce swelling and pain.
- Colchicine (Colcrys): Colchicine is a medication that helps with gout pain. It may be most effective when taken as soon as your symptoms appear.
- Corticosteroids: Corticosteroids can help with your pain and reduce any joint damage. Your doctor may inject this medication directly into your joint, or you may take it by mouth.
- Medications to lower uric acid levels: Certain medications can lower the amount of uric acid in your body. These medications can include:
- uricosuric agents to help the kidneys remove uric acid from your body
- xanthine oxidase inhibitors to stop your body from producing uric acid
A doctor can help you to find the right medication options for you.
No specific diet can completely cure gout. But eating a healthy diet can help you manage symptoms and prevent future flare-ups.
Foods that can help with gout include vegetables, fruits such as cherries, low fat dairy, and whole grains. Foods to limit when you have gout include red meat, certain seafood, alcohol, and sugary and ultra-processed foods.
By managing your diet, you can reduce your gout flare-ups and start to feel better.
- Chen PE, et al. (2019). Effectiveness of cherries in reducing uric acid and gout: A systematic review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6914931/
- DASH eating plan. (2021). https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/education/dash-eating-plan
- Gout: Diagnosis, treatment, and steps to take. (2020). https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/gout/diagnosis-treatment-and-steps-to-take
- Gout. (2020). https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/gout.html
- Kakutani-Hatayama M, et al. (2015). Nonpharmacological management of gout and hyperuricemia: Hints for better lifestyle. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6125106/
- Rai SK, et al. (2017). The dietary approaches to stop hypertension (DASH) diet, Western diet, and risk of gout in men: Prospective cohort study. https://www.bmj.com/content/357/bmj.j1794
- Vickneson K, et al. (2021). Xanthine oxidoreductase inhibitors. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32789757/
- Which foods are safe for gout? (n.d.). https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/healthy-living/nutrition/healthy-eating/which-foods-are-safe-for-gout