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13 Top Foods to Reduce Uric Acid & Fight Gout

Gout is a painful arthritic condition that causes soreness, pain, and redness in joints. The pain can be sudden and severe. Sometimes, sufferers wake up in the middle of the night with sensations like their joints are on fire.

This discomfort is caused by the build-up of uric acid in joints. Uric acid is normally in your urine and is a normal metabolic byproduct of purine - a component of in a variety of foods but mainly animal products. This acid crystallizes in joints if too much of it is built up, resulting in inflammation-caused pain.

You should see a doctor if you are experience sudden intense pain in your joints because gout can lead to even worse pain and damage to joints.

Some symptoms of gout are:

How to Fight Uric Acid Buildup

Many pharmaceutical medications can be used to treat gout -NSAIDs like ibuprofin, other anti-inflammatory drugs, and drugs that block uric acid production in the body. Though of course, these medications come a list of nasty possible side effects like nausea, mood disturbances, vomiting, reduced liver function, etc.

Dietary Steps in Easing Gout Symptoms

Luckily diet can play a huge role in determining the severity of gout. Here’s the key thing: diet profoundly affects how much uric acid is in your body. So by targeting the dietary causes of elevated uric acid, you should be able to ease the symptoms of uric acid crystallization.

Here is a list of foods that are great or bad for people suffering from gout. Some you should include in your diet, and others you should stay away from.  

1. Eat legumes

Many animal products are very high in purines, which convert to uric acid, exacerbating gout attacks [1]. Legumes are a good, healthy plant source of protein that can help replace protein that would have come from animal products.

Beans are legumes - pretty much any type of bean you can think of - navy beans, black beans, pinto beans (you get the point). Peanuts are also legumes.

Legumes are very healthy and easy on the wallet. They give you plenty of vitamins, minerals, fiber that feeds your good bacteria, and, very importantly, lots of antioxidants. Many people could benefit from eating a little less meat and more beans but people suffering from gout could benefit a lot from utilizing them.

Even plant foods that have moderate purine content, like soy, do not appear to increase risk for gout. In women who consumed soy, their uric acid levels did not increase [2].

2. Eat nuts

These are another good source of protein that doesn’t come purine-rich animal products.

Why is it so important to limit meat? Of course, meat typically has much higher purine content than plant foods but research shows that meat may even further contributes to gout by decreasing the excretion of uric acid [3]. So it appears that meat worsens gout in at least two different ways.

3. Avoid Beer and Hard Alcohol

Epidemiological studies have confirmed the suspicion that uric-acid producing alcohols like beer and liquor put people at risk for gout [4]. It has traditionally been thought that consuming copious amounts of alcohol contributes to gout, and it appears that this is the case.

However, wine has been exonerated, by evidence,  from being a gout-causing drink [4] [5]. Although the alcohol in wine does cause a rise in uric acid in the blood after consumption, moderate consumption of this beverage is not linked to gout [5]. And the brief rise in uric acid from wine actually fights oxidative stress in the body [5].  Perhaps it's the antioxidant anthocyanin content of wine that keeps this drink healthy. So choose wine over beer and liquor.

4. Avoid Seafood

If you are suffering from gout or are at risk of gout, you should really avoid seafood as these foods are quite high in purines. Seafood has been correlated to gout [4][7].

The Mayo Clinic lists the following seafoods as especially high in purines: “anchovies, herring, sardines, mussels, scallops, trout, haddock, mackerel and tuna” [6].

5. Avoid Soft Drinks

Soft drinks are terrible for your health in a variety of ways. They contribute to diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and can play a role in liver disease. The huge fructose load in these drinks can even damage your skin by a process called glycation in which sugars attach to proteins like collagen.

Soft drinks are also probably bad for those suffering with gout. Suprise! Fructose-heavy drinks are “strongly associated” with gout in men [8]. Unfortunately, it’s said that the reason for the fructose-gout connection is still unclear [9]. But considering that fructose-rich beverages are associated with gout in women as well, you can be pretty certain that fructose contributes to gout [10].

6. Eat Raw Fruits and Raw or Steamed Vegetables

These fresh plant foods contain vitamin C. And vitamin C is associated with reduced gout risk [11]. Supplementation with vitamin C has been shown to significantly reduce blood uric acid levels [12]. So it appears that it is indeed vitamin C that is responsible for anti-gout effects and not some other component of vitamin C-rich foods.

Another study found that over a period of 20 years, men with higher intakes of vitamin C were less likely to develop gout [13].

7. Eat Cherries

Cherries are full of anthocyanin antioxidants and are a nice tasty and healthy treat.

These fruits have been shown to reduce the chance of having gout attacks [14]. It was also importantly noted that cherries had their beneficial effects regardless of lifestyle or dietary factors in the participants’ lives. Smoking, purine intake, and alcohol didn’t stop the cherries from working their magic and reducing gout attacks [14].

Cherries also are evidenced to lower uric acid levels [15]. Cherries might also fight gout through their anti-inflammatory effects [15]. Gout attacks are largely a result of inflammation that occurs because of uric acid buildup in joints. If inflammation can be reduced, pain can be reduced.

Way back in 1950, researchers knew that cherries could play a role in gout relief [16].

8. Drink Coffee

In men, long-term coffee consumption is associated with lower gout risk [17]. The same is true in women [19]. Coffee consumption is also associated with lower uric acid levels [18]. Researchers held that components other than caffeine were responsible for these beneficial effects [18].

A note on coffee: Some coffee manufacturers believe that coffee is healthiest when cooked at the right temperature - if it’s cooked too much, mutagenic compounds are formed and antioxidant content is reduced.

9. Eat Fiber-Filled Foods

Fiber is considered a factor for “protection” against gout [20]. Supplemental fiber has shown a mild uric acid-lowering effect [21]. In rats, fiber reduces uric acid as well [22].

Dietary fiber was “significantly’ associated with lower uric acid levels in humans [23]. It’s thought that fiber might interrupt the absorption of purines from the intestines [22].

10. Eat Leafy Greens

Leafy greens like lettuces, kale, chard, and others are great sources of folate. This B-vitamin plays a role in uric acid metabolism and appears to lower levels. In hypertensive humans, folate lowers blood uric acid levels [24]. Folate might even interfere with the damaging effects that uric acid crystals have on nerves [25].

When folate is combined with a drug, the blood uric acid levels lowered more dramatically than with the drug alone [26].

    11. Eat Turmeric

    Turmeric is a delicious spice used traditionally in Indian ayurvedic medicine and Indian cuisine. It has a yellow pigment and offers many health benefits.

    Turmeric might help with your gout symptoms because it is a powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Turmeric inhibits the most powerful inflammatory enzymes in the body like 5-LOX and COX enzymes (27).

    And curcumin, a component of turmeric, lowers uric acid levels in liver disease patients (28).

    So sprinkle turmeric onto your food for anti-gout benefits as well as anti-cancer, anti-dementia, and loads of other health benefits.

    12. Eat Chlorella

    This is a type of algae that contains the powerful antioxidant astaxanthin as well as the marine fatty acids EPA and DHA.

    EPA and DHA are important for the proper modulation of inflammation in the body. These are omega 3 fatty acids that are specific to seafood and algae, so if you are cutting out seafood while on an anti-gout diet, you may need to ingest EPA and DHA from another source. And chlorella is one of the only substantial vegan options for getting these fats.

    Why are EPA and DHA important?  When there is a sufficient amount of them in your body, inflammation is kept at a minimum. EPA and DHA are needed to make compounds called resolvins which resolve (stop) inflammation [29]. Adequate EPA and DHA also balance other inflammatory mediators like cytokines [29]. And less inflammation means less gout pain!

    And EPA and DHA have indeed been evidenced to reduce pain [30]. Apparently enough so that these fats can be recommended as an alternative to NSAIDs for fighting joint pain [30].

    Chlorella is often added to smoothies or can be taken in tablet form with meals.

      13. Ginger

      This is another spice to add to your food to fight inflammation. One component of ginger, shogaol, has been shown to fight gout via its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects [31]. Many studies have shown that ginger can reduce elevated levels of numerous inflammatory signals [31]. Nuclear factor kappa beta (NFκB) is one of these factors - in fact, it’s often considered the master signaller of inflammation [31]. So if that master switch is reduced, inflammation and pain should be reduced as well.

      Footnotes

      1. Purine-rich foods intake and recurrent gout attacks. Yuqing Zhang, Clara Chen, Hyon Choi, Christine Chaisson, David Hunter, Jingbo Niu, and Tuhina Neogi. Ann Rheum Dis. 2012 Sep; 71(9): 1448–1453
      2. Can soy intake affect serum uric acid level? Pooled analysis from two 6-month randomized controlled trials among Chinese postmenopausal women with prediabetes or prehypertension. Liu ZM, Ho CS, Chen YM, Woo J. Eur J Nutr. 2015 Feb;54(1):51-58.
      3. The effect of a vegetarian and different omnivorous diets on urinary risk factors for uric acid stone formation. Siener R, Hesse A. Eur J Nutr. 2003 Dec;42(6):332-337.
      4. Gout: epidemiology and lifestyle choices. Choi HK, Curhan G. Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2005 May;17(3):341-345.
      5. Uric Acid and Antioxidant Effects of Wine. Mladen Boban and Darko Modun. Croat Med J. 2010 Feb; 51(1): 16–22.
      6. Gout diet: What's allowed, what's not. Mayo Clinic Staff. Mayo Clinic Newsletter Published Online ART-20048524. July 17, 2015.
      7. Purine-rich foods, dairy and protein intake, and the risk of gout in men. Choi HK, Atkinson K, Karlson EW, Willett W, Curhan G. N Engl J Med. 2004 Mar 11;350(11):1093-1103.
      8. Soft drinks, fructose consumption, and the risk of gout in men: prospective cohort study. Choi HK, Curhan G. BMJ. 2008 Feb 9;336(7639):309-312.
      9. Fructose intake and risk of gout and hyperuricemia: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Joseph Jamnik, Sara Rehman, Sonia Blanco Mejia, Russell J de Souza, Tauseef A Khan, Lawrence A Leiter, Thomas M S Wolever, Cyril W C Kendall, David J A Jenkins, and John L Sievenpiper. BMJ Open. 2016; 6(10): e013191. Published online 2016 October 3.
      10. Fructose-rich beverages and risk of gout in women. Choi HK, Willett W, Curhan G. JAMA. 2010 Nov 24;304(20):2270-22708.
      11. Vitamin C Intake and the Risk of Gout in Men – A Prospective Study. Hyon K. Choi, MD, DrPH, Xiang Gao, MD, PhD, and Gary Curhan, MD, ScD. Arch Intern Med. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2010 Mar 9.
      12. Effect of oral vitamin C supplementation on serum uric acid: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Juraschek SP, Miller ER 3rd, Gelber AC. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2011 Sep;63(9):1295-1306.
      13. Vitamin C intake and the risk of gout in men: a prospective study. Choi HK, Gao X, Curhan G. Arch Intern Med. 2009 Mar 9;169(5):502-507.
      14. Cherry consumption and decreased risk of recurrent gout attacks. Zhang Y, Neogi T, Chen C, Chaisson C, Hunter DJ, Choi HK. Arthritis Rheum. 2012 Dec;64(12):4004-4011.
      15. Consumption of cherries lowers plasma urate in healthy women. Jacob RA, Spinozzi GM, Simon VA, Kelley DS, Prior RL, Hess-Pierce B, Kader AA. J Nutr. 2003 Jun;133(6):1826-1829.
      16. Cherry diet control for gout and arthritis. BLAU LW. Tex Rep Biol Med. 1950;8(3):309-311.
      17. Coffee consumption and risk of incident gout in men: a prospective study. Choi HK, Willett W, Curhan G. Arthritis Rheum. 2007 Jun;56(6):2049-2055.
      18. Coffee, tea, and caffeine consumption and serum uric acid level: the third national health and nutrition examination survey. Choi HK, Curhan G.Arthritis Rheum. 2007 Jun 15;57(5):816-821.
      19. Coffee consumption and risk of incident gout in women: the Nurses’ Health Study. Hyon K. Choi corresponding author and Gary Curhan. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Oct; 92(4): 922–927.
      20. A case-control study of the association of diet and obesity with gout in Taiwan. Lyu LC, Hsu CY, Yeh CY, Lee MS, Huang SH, Chen CL. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Oct;78(4):690-701.
      21. Supplementation of the diet with the functional fiber PolyGlycoplex® is well tolerated by healthy subjects in a clinical trial. Ioana G Carabin,corresponding author Michael R Lyon, Simon Wood, Xavier Pelletier, Yves Donazzolo, and George A Burdock. Nutr J. 2009; 8: 9.
      22. Dietary fiber suppresses elevations of uric acid and allantoin in serum and urine induced by dietary RNA and increases its excretion to feces in rats. Koguchi T, Nakajima H, Wada M, Yamamoto Y, Innami S, Maekawa A, Tadokor T. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2002 Jun;48(3):184-193.
      23. Sun SZ, Flickinger BD, Williamson-Hughes PS, Empie MW. Lack of association between dietary fructose and hyperuricemia risk in adults. NutrMetab. 2010;7(1):16.
      24. Folic acid therapy reduces serum uric acid in hypertensive patients: a substudy of the China Stroke Primary Prevention Trial (CSPPT). Qin, Li Y, He M, Tang G, Yin D, Liang M, Wang B, Nie J, Huo Y, Xu X, Hou FF. Am J Clin Nutr. 2017 Apr;105(4):882-889.
      25. Folic acid reverses uric acid crystal-induced surface OAT internalization by inhibiting RhoA activity in uric acid nephropathy. Xinlin Wu, Jianxiang Lu, Jianquing Zhang, HHeng Liu, Miansheng Yan,  Birong Lian, Hongbo Xie, Shijun Zhang, Baoguo Sun, and Houming Zhou
      26. Effects of combined enalapril and folic acid therapy on the serum uric acid levels in hypertensive patients: a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, parallel-controlled clinical trial. Li H, Qin X, Xie D, Tang G, Zhang Y, Li J, Hou F, Wang X, Huo Y, Xu X. Intern Med. 2015;54(1):17-24.
      27. Potential Therapeutic Effects of Curcumin, the Anti-inflammatory Agent, Against Neurodegenerative, Cardiovascular, Pulmonary, Metabolic, Autoimmune and Neoplastic Diseases. Bharat B. Aggarwal and Kuzhuvelil B. Harikumar. Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2009; 41(1): 40–59.
      28. Curcumin Lowers Serum Lipids and Uric Acid in Subjects With Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Y Panahi et al.  J Cardiovasc Pharmacol 68 (3), 223-229. 9 2016.
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      2. Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) as an anti-inflammatory: an alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for discogenic pain. Maroon JC, Bost JW. Surg Neurol. 2006 Apr;65(4):326-31.
      3. Anti-Oxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Ginger in Health and Physical Activity: Review of Current Evidence. Nafiseh Shokri Mashhadi, Reza Ghiasvand, Gholamreza Askari, Mitra Hariri, Leila Darvishi, and Mohammad Reza Mofid. Int J Prev Med. 2013 Apr; 4(Suppl 1): S36–S42.