Gout Diet: High Purine Foods To Avoid

Gout happens when the body digests purines which causes a uric acid build-up.
Seafood and wild game meat are most likely to cause gout

A high purine diet can lead to a build-up of uric acid in the body -the leading cause of gout and kidney stones.

Here we discuss the low-purine gout diet and the foods that you should avoid with gout. Besides, we explain what purine is, and its relationship with uric acid.

What is purine?

Purine is a heterocyclic aromatic organic compound that contains nitrogen. When cells metabolize purines, this is what produces uric acid.

When this substance crystalizes abnormally in the joints, gout attacks occur and other conditions like uric acid kidney stones. When this acid accumulates in the bloodstream, gout, a painful form of arthritis takes hold. Here are the main symptoms that affect the joints and muscles (especially the big toe):

  • Stiffness

  • Redness

  • Swelling

  • Pain

  • A burning sensation

Generally speaking, animal products like meat contain the highest levels of purine. However, some vegetables and legumes like lentils can also have moderate levels of this compound.

Similarly, leafy green vegetables like spinach and swiss chard also contain a small amount of purine. Fruit, white bread, and nuts are a few examples of foods that don't contain this substance, and those that are at risk for this health condition can eat all of these as often as they like.

Coffee and tea are a part of a gout diet since they have components similar to purine, but they don't make uric acid. These foods are all suitable for a gout diet, or those with kidney stones, or hyperuricemia, a pathology defined by high levels of this chemical in the bloodstream.

Foods to avoid with gout

High uric acid levels can cause severe joint pain, also known as gouty arthritis. If you want to keep your levels of this chemical down, one of the best ways to do this is by finding out which foods are rich in purines. If you cut back your intake, you'll be able to control how much uric acid your body produces more easily.

If your levels of this chemical jump to above 6 mg/dl, then you need to reduce your purine intake. If this is your case, the list below will help you to find out which foods you should be eating less of.

Meat

Game meat like venison, turkey, goose, and partridge contains extremely high purine levels. This also holds true for pork, mutton, and beef.

Organ meat

Almost all types of organ meat -besides calf brain have a small amount of this substance. So, that's why this kind of food is usually off-limits for people with high uric acid levels. This includes gizzard, liver, kidney, tongue, spleen, and pig's feet. 

Beer

Consuming alcoholic beverages and beer in particular, has been proven to increase the likelihood of getting gout since this drink contains elevated levels of purine.

Purine, found in beer, leads to uric acid crystal formation

 

Blue fish

Oily fish like tuna, salmon, anchovies, cod, and mackerel are all high in purine. However, trout is one of the only white fish that need to be avoided.

Legumes

It's important not to go overboard with fresh or dry legumes like peas, lentils, or chickpeas.

Cured sausage

Chorizo and blood pudding are two types of sausages that need to be cut out of the diets of those with high uric acid levels. That's because this meat is high in fat and purine-rich.

Seafood

Some seafood like crab, clams, and shrimp only have moderate levels of purine. However, scallops and mussels contain the highest quantities of this substance.

Gout diet

A low-purine or gout diet mainly consists of reducing the number of foods consumed with this substance or even cutting them out entirely. The goal with this type of regimen is to lower the concentration of uric acid in the bloodstream.

On the same note, increasing water intake to about two liters per day is also recommended. This practice will help to eliminate uric acid from the body more quickly.

With this in mind, those that experience gout attacks need to learn to avoid purine-rich foods or at least to control their consumption. Nuts, low-fat dairy, eggs, pasta, potatoes, fruit, rice, and coffee are a few of the foods with the lowest concentrations of this compound.

Those with uric acid related pathologies should follow their doctors' dietary recommendations to reduce their symptoms. Likewise, losing weight very quickly is not a good idea for those with gout since it increases the likelihood of an attack.

References

Rosemeyer, H. (2004). The Chemodiversity of Purine as a Constituent of Natural Products. Chemistry & Biodiversity, 1(3): 361–401.

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