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How I Manage: 8 Foods To Avoid With Gout

I suffer periodically from gout and have found diet to be a good management tool.

What Is Gout?

An advanced case of gout

An advanced case of 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 they 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, but 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 staples in 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.

1. Turkey

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.

Fried chicken is delicious, but it will probably not help your gout.

Fried chicken is delicious, but it will probably not help your gout.

2. Chicken

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 are fewer 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.

This beer flight will take you to an excruciating destination.

This beer flight will take you to an excruciating destination.

3. Beer

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.

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Don't use venison as a beef substitute! You will regret it dearly!

Don't use venison as a beef substitute! You will regret it dearly!

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 of 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.

A one way ticket to pain

A one way ticket to pain

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 the 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 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.

7. Shellfish

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.

Walleye is a great-tasting fish that's safe to eat.

Walleye is a great-tasting fish that's safe to eat.

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:

  • anchovies
  • sardines
  • mackerel
  • salmon
  • trout.

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.

Foods to Avoid With Gout: Questions & Comments

Will M on December 30, 2018:

My doc told me no people are alike, and what works for one will not work for another, including medications that prevent occurrence (like Uloric) as well as treat existing ones. As this article says, diet has a lot to do with it. Also, I'm Filipino, and we Pacific Islanders and Blacks genetically have greater difficulty than most removing purines from our bodies and more prone to gout. I take 1/2 tsp. baking soda in water 4 times a day whenever I have a high purine meal. eat lots of berries and red grapes, and avoid meats as much as possible, and have only 1 gout attack in 4 years. That was recent - after eating hot dogs, turkey, and beer at a Christmas party. And I did NOT take any baking soda. Also, being physically active helps. I walk 2-3 miles a day and play tennis 1-2 times a week. Best wishes on your battles with gout. Whatever you do, please work with your doctor because your situation and different from anyone else.

Edna on November 20, 2018:

Everything I love is on the list of bad to eat for me, but im paying the price for overindulging

Anonymous on October 04, 2018:

The list of meats & fish high in protein includes just about everything

on the menu.

Those of us that suffer this debilitating health problem don't have much to look forward too when it comes to our next meal. Salads and fruit just don't cut it. I only dream of eating a great steak, lobster or double cheeseburger these days.

john on August 17, 2017:

what about wine

gerrielynn on August 01, 2017:

Ouch! You've educated us with some pretty popular foods that are not good to eat because of gout, but it's always better to be educated than ignorant of such serious matters. Thanks so much!

Jackie on July 17, 2017:

Can i eat red fish and or whiting fish

rosemarie albani on June 23, 2017:

Are clams okay? How about oysters? It's a shame that all the fish to avoid happens to be my favorite.

Chris on June 18, 2017:

I am 46 and thin build my first attack was 3 years ago! I don't drink beer and few cocktails once in while! I take 1,200 mil tart cherry and celery extract and just had an attack yesterday! Feels better today! Thursday I ate big salmon on grill and Friday fat porterhouse with 10 shrimp and bake potato and felt pain Saturday morn. Now I am drinking tart cherry juice from GNC and apple cider vinegar with with water 2x a day and goes away! I normally eat corn as side dish but store was out and I know for fact corn is good for gout! I hope this helps

Beathe belle on February 03, 2017:

Very helpful acticles

Jackie chapman on November 07, 2016:

I get ride of my gout by drinking tart cherry juice

Mimi micha on September 09, 2016:

I have gout in my left big toe. At the emerg, the cut into it and stuff came out, looking like mayo. Anyone out there who had the same?

Glen Carlson on September 07, 2016:

I hate gout and I keep having recurring attacks. Before I read this article, I thought I was doing something good by avoiding beef and pork and eating turkey. I haven't eaten a whole lot of turkey though...one sandwich for breakfast (yes, I'm different) with a slice of smoked turkey breast, cheddar cheese, mayo and mustard. *sigh*

ram on June 03, 2015:

Wonder if to much orange can start a gout attack

MARIAH on May 08, 2015:

Steve on March 12, 2014:

Several months ago I awoke and thought I had sleep-walked and kicked something and broke a bone in my foot. I even went to A&E to be x-rayed. As soon as a doctor saw me "shuffling", he said you've got gout. Didn't believe him. X-ray, nothing. One week ago, same. Went to work for 2 days. Couldn't stand it anymore. Doctors, same "shuffle". You've got gout. Unbelievable pain. Prescribed Arthrexin. Miracle drug. Gone 2hrs. Taking 2 three times a day. Just got to sort out my diet. Thanks for your info.

julie on February 15, 2014:

My mom had severe gout and in no time she was able 2 walk again. She rub gas pills or charcoal tablets with flax seeds into a paste put it directly on the gout area and add a little warm water to it. Leave on for 40 min. And then soak the remaining in warm water. Gout was on her toes and foot. Cured it with a good old family remedy. Really works good luck.

Don on November 30, 2013:

Hello, my experience with this cruel affliction is a combination of many of the above stories which just shows me that we are all very different in how we contract a gout attack and how we handle certain foods.

My number one piece of advice would be ,if you are having a gout attack do not take any type of anti inflammatory . At this stage inflammation is your friend! The pain will get much worse if you take anti inflammatorys.

Raceboi on November 24, 2013:

Hello I'm only 28 years old when I was 20 I've got my first attack I didn't realized that I have a gout when I was 22 I had gout because of the blood test last July I've got another 1 month attack left and right feet....so I tried to be vegetarian no meat and fish but last Friday I had again...and it is new because I can't walk because my knee hurts like my feet before huhuuhu.....

Steve in the UK on December 06, 2012:

Liver does me in , and I love liver , but no more:-(

I feel like an old cripple when I get an attack , I don't think people realise the pain we go through !

loookiehere on November 01, 2012:

Hello and Yes a Gout Sufferer,

I only get the Gout in the Shoulders and Neck and the PAIN is Horrible!

I walk every day and example here 58 miles in OCT...don't eat red meat,NO shell Fish of any kind,I do drink Wine on occasion and I am constantly looking for the occasion...lol

I do take this Gout seriously and have take the Colchicine on the first ache in the area and it does goes away within a couple of days but also have received Morphine Shots for the pain.

Just have to keep with trial and error I think.

Good Luck sufferers

st lainie on October 16, 2012:

I had my first attack 5 yrs. ago when my Mom died, and one recently when my 14 yr. old dog died. I do believe mine is highly stress related. I am now drinking more water and monitoring my purines. I tried baking soda with water and that seemed to help as well. Anyone else try the baking soda remedy?

s k ramnagar on June 21, 2012:

i have gout scince last 3 years ,i personally feel that gout is not a serious deases if you have been taking gout like foods.i never feel gout if i had ate chicken but if i had been red meat it is 100% sure tht i had suffered from gout.drinks lot of water almost 8 to 10 glass of water in a day you will be less affeted by gout.

sk ramnagar

Igotit2 on June 13, 2012:

So clarify something no protein??? Kinda right...so what about tofu it's a bean product and no green salads or spinach or mushrooms... Huh just trying to do this right. So what about a doing a kidney cleanse if the kidneys are having trouble processing uruc acid and changing my diet but I still want to lose a little bit of weight but maintain strength... Thoughts!!! On an active life style and diet to balance out this thing we call "gout"

kptprice on June 05, 2012:

I have had gout on and off a number of times at I am now 58 and in the midst of an attack in my left big toe. It hurts terribly and been drinking a real lot of water hoping to cleanse my system. Since this has just started I am hoping I can stop any progression. My wife died a year ago so I am alone and taking care of oneself is a big task especially having to walk. I am hoping some salad with a little white meat chicken I will be able to eat. Have ate nearly nothing and know to stay away from pork and red meat. Hoping white chicken and I am diabetic which compounds this is not easy. Any help from anyone would be great appreciated. I used to take allopurinal but Dr took me off it but I intend once this is gone if it ever does get back on it. This is my first attack in a little over 2 yrs and you cannot forget the pain because to me its extreme. I also have neuropathy and wondering if the medicines I take for it might contribute to this. God bless all the people who suffer from this as it is truly awful.

mamasuzie on May 15, 2012:

I have had severe gout attacks in the past year in my big toe. tried cortisone injections that seemed to help for a while. went to a reumatologist and he did blood work to check my uric acid level. It was up to9.0 much to high.... he started me on a regime of 5mg prednisone and 100mg of allopurinal. It has done wonders ...My uric acid is down to 4.o but he wants to make sure all the crystal are out of my joints before he takes me off the prednisone.. I can only thank God that I am out of pain, no attacks at all for the last 6 months.

Mary Jean on April 28, 2012:

I love sauces, good mushrooms, tea, rare roast beef, asparagus and wine but even limiting these doesn't completely eliminate the gout. This is the best site I've found for help. Am getting over an attack of gout after having blood work that showed that the uric acid was down...significantly...6 weeks ago. I don't want to take medication. And I am old, pushing 80. Thanks to all of you who report your problems.

Hans on April 23, 2012:

Gout sufferer for about 8 years now and I'm still confused as to what foods to avoid. Does anybody use a uric acid (UA) monitor to keep track of their UA levels daily or after a risky meal?

What is consistently true though is that water does help a lot. UA, like any other crystals develop more easily when the medium it's in (in this case, blood and joints) is dehydrated. So always hydrate and expel the excess UA through the urine. I drink at least 3L of water daily now and it helps tremendously. I drink a cup every hour until I urinate every hour. Then I reduce the frequency to a cup every 2 hours or whenever I feel thirsty. I've also heard that slightly alkaline water is good (because alkaline neutralises acid), but I haven't tried it.

My doctors have also told me that fat tissues store a lot of UA as well, and they've advised me to get to a healthier weight. For some reason, it never occurred to me that the UA will be released back into the blood stream, like RC commented above.

So 3 weeks ago, I started exercising again. I was losing like 5lbs a week doing cardio and weight training. I was so excited with the progress I was making that I cut down my carbs to a minimum and doubled my protein (chicken breast) to help me keep the muscle I already have and burn more fat. 10 days later, I paid dearly for it. I was LOSING WEIGHT TOO QUICKLY which was mostly fat (I have a scale that can tell body fat and muscle percentage) and I INCREASED MY INTAKE OF PROTEIN (even though it wasn't normally a trigger). Worst gout attack I ever experienced and I'm still feeling it as of right now, though it's gotten a lot better.

My advice for those of you who are exercising and trying to lose a lot of weight (50lbs or more), forget about weight training and gaining muscle for the time being. Focus on getting to a healthy weight first by doing moderate pace, low impact cardio like brisk-walking, swimming, elliptical machine or cycling. Once you're down, you can then actually see what you're really working with (muscle wise) and then SLOWLY but STEADILY work out to gain or tone the muscle. I now need to restructure my exercise routine and I hope I can start again soon. Been 2 weeks since I did any physical activity and I miss it!