How I Manage: 8 Foods to Avoid With Gout
What Is Gout?
Hyperuricemia (the medical term for gout) occurs when the body is either unable to process purines or is overwhelmed with purines that turn into uric acid crystals. These crystals usually form in joints, initially the ankle or toe, and it can ultimately spread to other joints. It is an incredibly painful disease. Seeing how this ailment is mostly caused by diet, it makes sense to figure out the foods that cause gout.
Knowing purines are a major factor in setting the stage for an attack, it only makes sense that if we can reduce our intake of high-purine foods we can lessen our chances of getting a gout attack. For the most part, many purine foods are unhealthy, and by eating a healthy diet with plenty of vitamin C and potassium, we can not only help prevent symptoms we can also help prevent long-term obesity, which is a common trait among gout patients.
There is more to this than simply eating healthy, however. While many purine items are unhealthy, unfortunately, there are a few that are healthy. It is almost impossible to totally avoid purine foods, so you should eat them in moderation. Too much of a good-tasting thing can be bad for you.
Another thing to note is that some people can eat certain purine items and not be affected, while other foods can lead to terrible pain once an attack occurs. This list is mostly to make you aware of foods that contain purine. You will have to test out some of these for yourselves. If these are a main part of your diet and you are having a problem, you may want to eliminate each item separately to see which ones are causing your attacks.
Having said that, here is a list of eight foods that you should avoid eating if you have gout.
Turkey is one of the healthy foods that can cause gout, as it has moderate-to-high levels of purines. Personally, turkey gives me very bad attacks. I eat only small amounts at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I avoid it the rest of the year. One time our local grocery store had a great sale on turkey, so we bought one and had turkey for a week. I paid dearly with a week's worth of agonizing pain. I have friends, though, who have no problem eating turkey—but they can't eat other purine foods. As with all of these, if you are going to test them out, do it moderately.
Chicken has moderate levels of purines. This is dependent on the person. I have friends who cannot even sniff chicken without getting a gout attack. I have always been able to eat as much chicken as I want without any problems.
If you are going to eat chicken, try to stay with the lean white meat. There is less purines in the better quality of the meat. You should probably avoid processed chicken products such as chicken based hot dogs or chicken made from byproducts. These will have higher levels of purines.
Beer is one of the major foods to avoid. Most people with this disease who drink are unaware that beer has up to eight times the amount of purines versus its alcohol content. You are asking for pain if you drink this beverage regularly.
I am a paramedic by trade and I cannot begin to tell you how many long term alcoholics I see with gout symptoms. Most of them don't treat it properly and have tophi, which look like whitish lumps on their knuckles, ears, and toes. These are signs of high uric acid levels and signs of chronic gout attacks. They also sometimes have deformed joints from the effects of all the attacks they've had in the past.
4. Should You Avoid Beef?
Probably. Depending on what part of the cow you are eating, it can contain high levels of purines. If you just have to have meat, avoid hamburgers unless it is high quality meat. The lower quality portions are what contain the highest levels of purines.
Again, as with all these foods, everyone is different. If you are on drugs or natural remedies for gout designed to treat this condition, you may be able to eat beef more often than without the drugs or remedies, but you should still only eat in moderation.
5. Can Venison Cause Gout?
Yes, it can! Venison has very high purine levels. It is even higher than beef. I found this out the hard way. I was unaware that venison causes gout and I used it as a replacement for beef. I hadn't had beef type meat in a couple years at the time and my family and I ate venison steak, venison sausage, venison burgers, etc. A week later the pain began. It lasted a month! I almost always try to cure it naturally, but to no avail. Even Indocin didn't work. I had to get a cortisone shot to end the pain.
If you are into hunting, I'd like to make you aware that most game foods are high in purines. Squirrel, rabbit, pheasant, grouse, and venison are all especially triggering. Hunting is very popular in the area I live in, but I don't even bother. Not because I'm against hunting, but because I can't eat it.
6. Hot Dogs
Hot dogs are definitely one of the main foods to avoid if you suffer from gout. Hot dogs are one of the reasons people get attacks after summer holidays. They overdo it on the barbecue and eat too many hot dogs, and 2-5 days later, they wake up in the middle of the night with an attack. It doesn't matter what type of meat the frankfurter is made from, whether turkey, chicken, or beef, you can still get an attack if you eat too many.
As we've already seen, turkey, chicken, and beef all have moderate or high levels of purines. That alone should be enough to cross hot dogs off the "to eat" list. However, another reason is that certain parts of the animal contain higher levels of purines than others. Most hot dogs you buy in a grocery store are made from the leftover animal parts. It's these leftovers such as the organs and byproducts that have the highest levels of purines. Sausage can also be lumped into this category. Every food is different. I personally have had fewer problems with sausage than with hot dogs.
Shellfish such as crab and lobster are very high in purine content. You should avoid these foods. Fortunately, they tend to be on the more expensive side to purchase so while they should be on the restricted list, most people can't afford to eat them regularly anyway. Shrimp, however, is another shellfish that has high purine levels and is pretty easy to get. My recommendation is to avoid shellfish altogether if you can.
8. Fish to Avoid with Gout
For the most part, fish is okay to eat and a very healthy part of your diet. Again, diet plays such a huge role in how to prevent gout. Most fish should be fine for you to eat, but there are a few types of fish that are higher in purines and should be avoided. Fish that cause gout:
These vary from moderate to high purines. There are still plenty of fish you can eat that are low in purines such as whitefish, perch, and walleye.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.