Food choices plays an important role in managing gout, the most common form of inflammatory arthritis in the United States. Gout occurs when uric acid builds up in the blood (instead of being excreted) and gets deposited as crystals in one or more joints, triggering sudden swelling and pain. Uric acid is a by-product of the breakdown of purines, naturally occurring compounds in the body and in certain foods, which is why diet can be important for controlling gout attacks.
We asked rheumatologist Hyon K. Choi, MD, a gout expert and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, what people with gout should know about diet.
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If you’re changing your diet to help lower uric acid levels and reduce your risk of gout attacks, meat choices can have a big impact. Some meats are high in purines. Purines are substances found naturally in the body as well as in in foods. They are broken down in the body to form uric acid. When excess uric acid in the bloodstream builds too quickly or can’t be eliminated fast enough, it is deposited as needle-shaped crystals in the tissues of the body, including joints, causing intense pain. So, a high-purine diet puts you at greater risk for uric acid buildup. And a 2012 study in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases showed that the risk worsens as more purines are included in the diet. But what if meats are your favorite food? Here’s what you should know about your options.
Continue reading Making Smart Meat Choices If You Have Gout
A diet that’s best known for promoting heart health may also help gout management. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, which emphasizes fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products, may lower serum uric acid (SUA) levels. In a study published in Clinical Rheumatology in March 2017, research findings showed that the diet reduced SUA [compared to the typical American (control) diet] within 30 days, with a sustained effect at 90 days. In an earlier study reported in Arthritis & Rheumatology in August 2016, researchers reported similar finding in some cases.
Continue reading Heart Diet Good for Gout
A diet that’s best known for promoting heart health may also significantly reduce blood levels of uric acid – a key factor in the development of gout, according to a new study published online recently in Arthritis & Rheumatology. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, which emphasizes fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products, was developed nearly 20 years ago by a government-funded research collaborative to reduce high blood pressure. In the new study, researchers found that in some cases, DASH may also lower uric acid levels almost as well as medications do.
Continue reading Heart-healthy DASH Diet May Also Help Prevent Gout
Most of us know how sugar affects our waistline. Too much of the sweet stuff contributes to obesity, and with it, diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Overdoing it on one type of sugar in particular—the high fructose corn syrup found in sodas and processed foods—can also set off painful gout. Considering that the average American eats 22 to 30 teaspoons of sugar daily, gout is yet another health risk worth noting.
Fructose is a natural sugar found in fruit and honey. High fructose corn syrup is a man-made sweetener produced from corn. It’s composed of 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose. Why is this type of sugar harder on your joints than other forms, like glucose? “Fructose is metabolized differently from glucose,” explains Peter Simkin, MD, emeritus professor of medicine in the University of Washington School of Medicine division of Rheumatology.
As the body breaks down fructose, chemical compounds called purines are released. The breakdown of purines produces uric acid—the substance that forms painful crystals in the joints and causes gout. Within minutes after you drink high fructose corn syrup-sweetened soda, your uric acid levels rise. Continue reading Fructose and Gout: What’s the Link?