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Foods to Avoid with Gout

Natalie Stein
December 16, 2020
Foods to Avoid with Gout

Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis that can cause pain in the feet and joints. It results from the buildup of uric acid in the joints, which can feel painful if it progresses as reported by MedlinePlus.

Uric acid is a breakdown product of purines, which are compounds that are found in some foods.

Anti-inflammatory and pain medications are common for treating gout, but what you eat can affect symptoms, too. In general, losing extra pounds and avoiding certain high-purine foods may help prevent flare-ups.

Foods to Avoid with Gout


Certain foods can lead to flare-ups of gout due to their high purine content. Other foods can contribute to gout by increasing the risk of weight gain.

The following are some foods that you may want to limit if you have gout or are at risk for it to prevent gout triggers:

1. Red Meat, Poultry and Organ Meat

Red meat, such as beef and pork, and poultry, such as chicken and turkey, are also high in purines. Organ meats include liver, kidneys, tongue, sweetbreads, pâte, and tripe. They are the foods that are highest in purines.

Keeping serving sizes of meat to 3 ounces and having meat only once a day, if at all, can help reduce the amount of purines that you get. You can also substitute plant-based proteins for meat and poultry. Veggie burgers, vegetarian hot dogs, chili with tofu and beans, and peanut butter sandwiches are all lower-purine choices.

2. Alcohol

Alcohol itself is not high in purines, but it can make gout worse. For one thing, beer contains purines. For another, alcohol causes the body to produce more purines and therefore more uric acid. Finally, alcoholic beverages can be high in calories and cause weight gain, which can cause flare ups. It is best to avoid alcohol or limit yourself to 1 (for women) or 2 (for men) drinks a day.

3. Sugar-Sweetened Foods

foods that can trigger gout

Sugar does not have many purines, but it may contribute to other conditions that can cause gout or make it worse. People who eat more added sugars tend to have a higher body weight and greater risk for prediabetes and diabetes

Sources of added sugars tend to be low in nutrients and high in calories. They can include sugar-sweetened beverages, ice cream, cakes, pies, candy, other desserts, and sugar-sweetened cereal and flavored oatmeal and yogurt. Eating fresh fruit for dessert and snacks, and mixing it into oatmeal, yogurt, and cereal, can help satisfy a sweet tooth without added sugars.

Tips for a Healthy Gout Diet

  • Choose plant-based proteins, such as beans, tofu, or lentils, instead of red meat and organ meat.
  • Low-fat dairy products, such as yogurt and cheese, are also good protein sources.
  • Eating fruit instead of dessert or sugar-sweetened snacks can help reduce sugar consumption and increase vitamin C consumption.
  • Most refined grains have whole-grain counterparts, such as whole-grain breads, oatmeal and whole-grain breakfast cereal, whole-grain pasta, and brown rice.
  • It is easy to get an extra serving of vegetables by piling them on sandwiches or adding them to soups or stews.
  • Caffeine can interfere with sleep, so it is best to avoid consuming caffeinated coffee and other caffeinated beverages within six hours of bedtime.

Foods to Eat When You Have Gout


Certain types of foods can reduce gout symptoms by lowering inflammation, being low in purines, or helping with weight control according to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

1. Fruit

Vitamin C is an antioxidant vitamin that helps reduce the risk of gout flare ups. Many fruits are rich in vitamin C, including citrus fruits, kiwi, mango, cantaloupe, and strawberries. Most types of fruit are low in purines as well.

2. Vegetables

Some types of vegetables are high in purines, but they do not appear to cause flare ups. Many other types of vegetables are low in purines. Instead, vegetables can aid in weight control because they are low-calorie. Vegetables that are high in vitamin C include bell peppers, radishes, tomatoes, onions, broccoli, spinach, and cauliflower.

3. Dairy

Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt, are low in purines, and they are a good fit for a diet to manage or prevent gout. They are good protein alternatives to meat, and reduced-fat dairy products are lower in saturated fat than full-fat ones.

4. Coffee

Do you depend on a cup of coffee to fully wake you up in the morning? That can be a healthy habit, with a few conditions.

  • Total daily caffeine consumption stays under 400 mg, or the amount in a few cups of coffee.
  • Your caffeine intake stops at least 6 hours before bed and does not interfere with sleep.
  • The coffee does not come with a load of cream, sugar, or sugary syrup.

Coffee is linked to a lower risk for gout as well as prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. And that energy jolt you get? It boost metabolism, and research supports that coffee drinkers have lower risk for obesity.

5. Whole Grains

Like vegetables, whole grains can be high in purines, but, as with vegetables, the benefits of eating whole grains outweigh the possible increase in uric acid.

A study from the NCBI showed that whole grains are linked to lower systemic inflammation, and that can reduce episodes of pain from gout. In addition, people who eat more whole grains compared to refined grains tend to have lower risk for obesity.

Gout and Prediabetes


Prediabetes is a condition with higher-than-normal levels of blood sugar due to insulin resistance. People with gout are more likely to have diabetes, and people with diabetes are more likely to have gout. This may be because people with diabetes tend to have high levels of uric acid, and people with gout tend to have high levels of inflammation that is linked to diabetes.

Prediabetes is a condition that often leads to type 2 diabetes within several years, but making certain lifestyle choices can usually prevent type 2 diabetes. Many of these same choices are good for gout, too.

  • Losing weight
  • Reducing consumption of red meat
  • Limiting consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and foods
  • Including reduced-fat dairy products
  • Drinking a moderate amount of coffee

In addition, being overweight and eating a diet high in red meat or sugar-sweetened foods increase risk for prediabetes. Prediabetes usually does not cause symptoms, so recognizing these risk factors may be a clue that it is time to get blood sugar tested. 

Finding out that you have prediabetes as soon as possible gives you a chance to take steps to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. If you qualify, Lark Diabetes Prevention Program can help you lose weight gradually and make healthier nutrition choices. These same changes can reduce the severity of gout, too.

Author
Natalie Stein

Exercise, Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Lark Health