Learn How to Cope With Gout

by Elisa Olivier-Nielsen, MA, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, EON Consulting

As we celebrate National Nutrition month, we are encouraged to eat a healthy diet and engage in regular physical activity to support a healthy body.

However, there may be many reasons that could prevent one from being able to follow these common recommendations, and one of them is a condition named gout.

Gout is a known form of arthritis that, during flare-ups, can cause severe joint pain lasting up to 12 hours in ankles, knees, elbows, wrists, fingers and toes followed by some joint discomfort that may last from a few days to a few weeks. Gout also causes joints to swell and become tender, warm and red,and limits one’s ability to walk and exercise.

Risk factors include diet, alcohol consumption, weight, medical conditions, medications, gender, age and family history. It is caused by the accumulation of uric acid produced as a byproduct
of the digestion of purines. This accumulation could be due to an overconsumption of foods high in purine or an impaired kidney function. Adequate hydration and implementing a healthy diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meats, low-fat dairy products, healthy fats, nuts, seeds and legumes is recommended. Further dietary management of gout depends on whether an individual is in remission or is experiencing a flare-up.

During remission:

Drink at least 8, 8-oz. glasses of water daily

Follow a healthy diet

Eat in moderation: 

  • Oatmeal (limit to no more than 2/3 cup uncooked daily)
  • Wheat bran, wheat germ (limit to no more than 1/4cup dry daily)
  • Meat and poultry
  • Crab, lobster, oysters and shrimp (limit to 1-2 servings daily)
  • Dried beans, peas and lentils (limit to 1 cup cooked daily)
  • Beverages containing fruit sugar (fructose)
  • Asparagus, cauliflower, spinach, mushrooms, green peas (limit to no more than 1/2 cup of these vegetables daily)

During flare-ups:

  • Increase water intake
  • Follow a healthy diet
  • Closely follow the moderation recommendations listed under “remission”

Avoid the following:

  • Beer, alcoholic beverages
  • Gravies, sauces made with meat
  • Yeast, yeast extracts
  • Organ meats
  • Anchovies, sardines, herring, mussels, tuna, codfish, scallops, trout, and haddock; bacon; organ meats (such as liver or kidney); tripe; sweetbreads; wild game; goose
  • Excessive intake of high-fat red meats

In addition, regular exercise (especially low-impact) is an excellent prophylactic against gout as it supports a healthy body weight, improves circulation and is easier on joints.