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Gout is a painful form of arthritis that occurs when high levels of uric acid in the blood cause crystals to form and accumulate in and around a joint. A gout attack is excruciating. How painful is gout? A veteran once said, "I’ve been shot, beat up, stabbed, and thrown out of a helicopter, but none of that compared to the gout."
Uric acid is produced when the body breaks down a chemical called purine. Purine occurs naturally in your body, but it's also found in certain foods. People used to believe that limiting purine intake can lower purine levels in the body, and they would avoid food rich in purine, but does it work?
The short answer is no.
Purine Does Not Come From Food
Gout attacks are related to the formation and deposition of urate, and high uric acid is indeed a risk factor for gout. However, contrary to popular belief, this uric acid does not come from purine in food. Instead, most of the purine in your body is produced by the body's natural metabolism. Only about 20% comes from food.
Did you say 20% is still a lot? Sorry to disappoint you, but your body will manage to keep purine in balance. This means if you eat less purine, your body will make more purine to compensate for the loss of purine from food.
Then how on earth should a gout patient eat?
Key Factors of Gout
Weight: Being overweight increases the risk of gout as there is more turnover of body tissue, which means more production of uric acid as a metabolic waste product. Higher levels of body fat also increase levels of systemic inflammation as fat cells produce pro-inflammatory cytokines.
Health Conditions: Renal insufficiency and other kidney problems can reduce the body’s ability to efficiently remove waste products, leading to elevated uric acid levels. Other conditions associated with gout include high blood pressure and diabetes.
Genetics: A family history of gout increases the likelihood of the condition developing.
Lifestyle: Alcohol consumption interferes with the removal of uric acid from the body.
Now, the key to a gout diet is obvious.
An Appropriate Gout Diet
Obviously, the key to a gout diet is balance and variety. You need enough nutrition from various food sources while avoiding too much sugar, salt, and fat from the process.
Weight loss always comes first. Obesity can cause so many problems, gout is just one of them. Being overweight increases the risk of developing gout, and losing weight lowers the risk of gout. Research suggests that reducing the number of calories and losing weight lowers uric acid levels and reduces the number of gout attacks. Losing weight also lessens the overall stress on joints.
You should also eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, which provide complex carbohydrates. Foods and beverages with high-fructose corn syrup and high glucose or sucrose content should also be excluded from your list. By the way, high-purine vegetables like asparagus and spinach are totally safe.
On the other hand, water is your best option of beverage. Since uric acid exits your body from urination, the more water you drink, the more frequently you pee, and the less uric acid in your blood. Therefore, drinking a lot of water could help with your gout.
You may still eat meat, but you need to be careful. Lean meat and poultry are your top choices. Do not eat too much red meat such as beef, lamb, and pork. Other potential sources of protein include low-fat dairy, lentils, and seafood. Seafood may seem high in purine, but its overall benefit can outweigh the risk.
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