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Is Your Grocery List Promoting Gout? What Foods to Eat and Which Ones to Avoid

Aug 17, 2007
If you have a condition like gout, one of the last things you want to think about is what's on your grocery list. After all, gout is painful and uncomfortable and the swelling is not only a nuisance, it can also be quite embarrassing. However, you don't have much choice. Gout does require that you will have to avoid certain foods that will aggravate your condition.

How food is linked to gout

Gout is a condition caused by elevated levels of uric acid in the blood. In some cases, genetics could be the culprit. However, some people pre-disposed to gout may be asymptomatic, meaning they do not suffer from any symptom at all and will not require treatment.

There are some, however, whose lifestyles directly cause the occurrence of gout. Food and drink may contribute to the development of this condition and cause unnecessary discomfort and pain.

Certain foods promote the production of uric acid in the body. In normal levels, it is easily dissolved in the blood and excreted through the urine and therefore do not cause any harm. However, when too much food high in substances that produce uric acid is taken, the body may not have enough time or resources to properly process uric acid and dispose of it. This is where trouble begins.

How uric acid harms the body
Uric acid is the end product of the bodys effort to metabolize purine and is obtained from guanine and adenine. These are purines that are necessary components of our DNA and RNA. It's not entirely useless because uric acid serves to rid our bodies with excess nitrogen.

Uric acid is not completely soluble and when increased to intolerable levels, can cause gout. This is the same uric acid that promotes the formation of kidney stones. It forms sharp, needle-like crystals that deposit themselves in the joints, causing inflammation, redness and pain.

There are two main reasons why uric acid levels increase in the body: either the kidneys are impaired and not functioning properly, or there's too much intake of substances (i.e., food) that promote the production of uric acid.

Foods that promote gout

Most foods are actually nutritious and are harmless by themselves. However, when taken in excess or in situations where gout is already pre-existing, they can produce unpleasant effects.

The foods that are most likely to aggravate gout are those that are rich in purine. These include sources of animal protein like red meat, organ meats or offal like kidneys, tripe, sweetbreads, heart and liver and some shellfish and seafood - oysters, mussels, anchovies, mackerel and herring. Foods that are moderately high in purines are mutton, bacon, salmon, scallops, trout, goose, pheasant, turkey and other game meats.

Other foods that need to be either avoided or taken in moderation are dried peas, beans, spinach, mushrooms, cauliflowers, asparagus, oatmeal, wheat germ and wheat bran.

Purine may also be found in other kinds of meat, poultry and fish, although in small amounts. Therefore, their intake should be limited, preferably to 6 oz. per day at most.

Other foods that need to be avoided are junk food and sweets, including ice cream, pastries, rich desserts and those made with simple carbohydrates. Fructose is a main contributor to weight gain and people suffering from gout need to watch their weights more carefully. Overweight and obese people have high levels of uric acids in their blood.

If going on a diet, avoid crash diets or fasting, since these can raise the blood's uric acid level. It would also be wise to stay away from diets that use high protein and low carbohydrates to promote weight loss.

Drinking too much alcohol can also aggravate a gout attack and can contribute to its occurrence. Alcohol and beer interferes with the body's ability to excrete uric acid which may lead to hyperuricemia, a condition where there is increased levels of uric acid in the blood. However, there is no proof that wine can increase the risk of gout occurrence and may be taken in moderation.

Managing gout does not necessarily mean completely eliminating the abovementioned foods from your diet just to avoid an attack. The trick is to take them in moderate amounts and if it can be done, to eat alternative foods like tofu, low-fat dairy products and eggs instead, which are low in proteins. Meats don't have to be avoided completely either, as long as portions are smaller and leaner and prepared with little or no oil.
About the Author
Lee Dobbins writes for http://gout.topicgiant.com where you can learn more about how to combat symptoms of gout and which gout foods to avoid.
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