Gout is a painful condition that affects 1-2% of North Americans through their lives. While gout can eventually go away on its own, it may last for years. Gout attacks last for about a week in length, and the majority of sufferers experience multiple attacks per year.
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Untreated gout can cause a risk for diabetes and heart disease. Chronic gout can also cause kidney stones. Gout is caused by a buildup of uric acid in the blood. It cristalizes in the joints, with the big toe being the location in half of the cases. This is called podagra.
The symptoms of a gout attack can be controlled through nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and other medication. The prevention of gout attacks lies in diet. There are a number of foods that can trigger a gout attack. Recent studies have found that many of the vegetables we believe cause gout attacks in fact can decrease the risk. These foods include beans, peas, and leafy greens.
Here are 10 common trigger foods for gout. Try and avoid these or have them in moderation to keep your gout at bay.
If you suffer from attacks of gout, you may want to stay away from foods high in purine. Moderate levels of purine in your diet may not affect gout, but high levels will. Fish with high levels of purine include herring, sardines, carp, cod, haddock, salmon, trout, tuna, and anchovies. Eating small amounts of these foods should not produce an acute attack, however a diet high in purine rich fish can.
Consuming alcohol is one of a biggest triggers of a painful gout attack. Studies have shown that beer in particular is dangerous. One study followed 47,000 men for 12 years and found that 2% of them developed gout. Those that had more alcohol in their diet had a much higher risk. One serving of beer a day can increase your risk by 50%. Beer in particular has high levels of purine, explaining its particular risk. Other alcoholic drinks to avoid include hard liquor and wine.
Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it can reduce the water in your body. This is dangerous if you suffer from gout. The uric acid crystals are suspended in your blood, but if you become dehydrated they can crystallize at your joints. Drinking too much of this can cause your body to become dehydrated. Drinking one cup of coffee a day is perfectly fine, but stay away from multiple cups around the same time. This could be just enough to trigger a gout attack.
4. Organ Meats
Animal organs are typically high in purine, making organ meats bad triggers for gout. Stay away from the liver, heart, lungs, and spleen of animals. Calf’s liver is the highest in purine, with 460 mg of purine per serving. Non-organ red meats can also be high in purines. But, for instance, chicken ranks only moderately for purine count, which means its safe to eat this lean protein.
5. Fried Foods
Fatty foods can trigger a painful gout attack, so fried foods are ones to avoid. It has been shown that people with a higher body mass index are more at risk for developing gout. Fried foods can not only trigger an attack, they could be putting you at risk for chronic gout. Stay away from foods fried in oil, and also prepackaged foods that you have to bake. These may be coated in a breading that contains high levels of oils to achieve a crispy texture.
Beef is one of the highest whole foods with a great amount of purine. The entire animal has moderate to high levels. Some of the cuts with the highest amount include beef chuck, beef tenderloin, beef ribs, roast beef, and beef shoulder. Beef is also high in fat, which can also trigger an attack. Other red meat foods like lamb and and pork also contain high levels of purine. You don’t have to rid your diet of these products altogether, but eating them in great moderation can be beneficial.
Drinking soda is dangerous if you are at risk for gout. Studies have shown a direct link to fructose sweetened drinks and gout attacks. Many soda varieties are sweetened with fructose. The studies show that the increased gout incidences over the last decades correlate to the increased soda consumption. The risk of gout has risen from 16 cases in 100,000 people in 1977 to 42 cases in 100,000 people in 1996. Popular soda beverages also come caffeinated, which can further your risk for a gout attack. The caffeine can cause dehydration because it is a diuretic. This can cause the uric acid in your body to crystallize, triggering a gout attack.
8. Rich Sauces
Gout used to be known as a rich man’s disease, and it can certainly be caused by rich sauces. Many sauces and dressings are high in fat, creating a risk for a gout attack. These sauces are also usually put on meats, such as steak and roast beef, so you are getting double the risk. Sauces to avoid include both brown and white gravy, béarnaise sauce, béchamel sauce, and hollandaise sauce.
In towns where the economy is based on fishing, the cases of gout are much more pronounced. This can be caused by the increase of shellfish in their diets. Shellfish contain a moderate amount of purine, but regular consumption could push your body over the edge and cause a gout attack. Shellfish high in purine include lobster, scallops, clams, and crab. Along with fish being high in purine, a varied diet that contains more than just seafood proteins is key.
10. Fruit Juice
Fruits are so healthy, it can be hard to consider them to be gout causing. Fruit juices have naturally and artificially occurring fructose sugar levels. Eating fruit itself is fine because the soluble fiber limits the release of the sugars. Fruit juice is like pure sugar water in comparison. One study found that women who drink high fructose liquids had a 74% higher risk for gout. The fructose rich drinks can increase uric acid levels. Stay away from orange juice in particular as studies have found this juice in particular has a potent risk.
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