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Gout diet: What to eat and what to avoid

Gout is a type of arthritis that occurs when crystals of Sodium urate produced by the body form inside the joints. The uric acid in the body crystalises and deposits in joints when levels of the acids are too high. Gout then develops and causes swelling, inflammations and irritation in joints. Management and treatment of gout is mainly done through medications, but eating a healthy gout diet can also help stabilize uric acid levels in blood and reduce risk of gout occurring.

Dietary management of gout

Dietary management and treatment of gout is often recommended if you cannot tolerate gout medications for one reason or another.Here are key foods you should include in your diet daily for optimal health and to reduce the risk of gout attack.

1. Plenty of fruits and vegetables

Your diet should include plenty of fruits and vegetables (which are rich in vitamin C) at least five portions per day to reduce the risk of gout. Add fruits and vegetables to meals like stews, bolognese and casseroles. Cherries are especially useful in a gout diet because they help significantly reduce levels of uric acid in the blood.

2. Moderate dairy products and milk

Your gout diet should also include some low-fat dairy products, such as skimmed milk, low-fat cheese and low-fat yoghurt to help prevent or lower high levels of uric acid in the blood. Dairy products and milk provide proteins that have low purine content, which means they make a good alternative to eating fish, meat and poultry. Foods with high purine content can lead to weight gain and associated health problems, including gout.

3. Plenty of starchy carbohydrates

Each meal you take should include plenty of starchy carbohydrates, such as rice, pasta, potatoes, quinoa, oats, barley and bread. Starchy carbohydrates contain only small amounts of purines. Try and get wholegrain varieties of starchy carbohydrates to prevent gout attacks. Wholegrain foods often have more nutrients and fibre and, therefore, should make the basis of your gout diet.

Foods to avoid

Foods high in protein and purine content have long been associated with increased risk of gout, including high purine-rich foods like yeast, hearts, mussels and herring. Avoid these foods as they have been found to elevate the levels of uric acid in blood. Also, limit intake of sugary and sweetened foods in your gout diet, such as sweets, cakes, biscuits, fruit juices and sugary soft drinks.

Sugary foods, drinks, sweetners and snacks often contain fructose (sometimes labeled as glucose-fructose or high-fructose corn syrup), which can increase uric acid levels in the blood and cause insulin resistance. Increased uric acid levels in the blood and insulin resistance are both risk factors for gout developing.

For more information on gout, read NHS choices gout section at: www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Gout/Pages/Introduction.aspx/

Also read about Gout from UW Medicine. Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine at: www.orthop.washington.edu/?q=patient-care/articles/arthritis/gout.html

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