Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis caused when too much uric acid builds up in the blood. The body can’t get rid of it because the kidneys are not eliminating enough, or it is forming more than the body can handle. When your body can’t keep up with the metabolism to eliminate uric acid, crystals form and settle in your joints. This causes painful inflammation.
Your doctor can tell if you have gout by looking for signs of inflammation and swelling in your big toe or looking at your toenails. But you can also have gout symptoms in other articulations, including your wrists, ankles, elbows, knees, and hips. Because gout can be hard to detect, it’s common for people to go undiagnosed, especially if their symptoms are not severe.
If you think you may have gout, make an appointment with your doctor. They may want to take some blood samples and do a physical examination. Your doctor will also ask about your medical history and perform an X-ray or ultrasound of your joint to see if there is evidence of uric acid buildup.
You will probably be recommended a gout diet when you’re diagnosed with gout. But what does food have to do with gout? In this article, we will show you the link between diet and gout and give you some recommendations to get you started on your way to gout-free living.
Why do you have to change your diet for gout?
Changing your diet is fundamental if you have gout. It is so important that sometimes people control the disease with the diet alone and some painkillers. But what is the relationship between gout and diet?
There are thousands of substances and nutrients we eat every day with food. One of them is known as purines. Purines are nitrogenous organic compounds found in food that have a special function in the body. They are present in all living organisms. In fact, they are the building blocks of our DNA, RNA, and proteins. Purines are found in all foods. For example, they are present in meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, beans, peas, and even vegetables. But the amount of purines varies depending on the type of food. Some foods have extremely high purine levels. Others have lower levels but still have some of them.
The body needs purines to make energy and repair itself. But unfortunately, purines the body has no way of getting rid of them. When purines build up in the body, they can be converted into uric acid, especially if you have a baseline disorder that facilitates this process. As mentioned above, too much uric acid causes the joints to swell and the body to get inflamed. This leads to pain and stiffness in the joints.
So, one of the first measures you must take is removing purines from your diet. Adopting a low-purine diet is not difficult. You only need to avoid or stop eating some foods altogether. You can also benefit from this diet if you do not have gout but only have high uric acid levels.
Foods you can’t eat in gout
Here’s a list of foods you can’t eat if you have gout. The same restrictions apply if you have high uric acid levels but still haven’t experienced your first gout attack. Most people with active gout had years of high uric acid levels without even realizing it before the disease started. Thus, it is never too early to adopt a low-purine diet by reducing the consumption of these foods or taking them out altogether.
The reason why they should be avoided is not that they are unhealthy foods. Some of them are natural sources of many nutrients and would be recommended foods in other cases. But if you have high uric acid levels, you will probably benefit from not consuming them anymore. We will break down these foods into two groups: one with very high purine content, which you should stop eating altogether, and another with moderate purine content, which you should limit as much as possible.
Foods with high purine contents (more than 100 mg/100g)
1) Soybean seeds
Purines are found in all kinds of foods, but they are much higher in soybeans. The content of purines in a 100-gram serving of soybeans is highly variable and goes from 20 to 170 milligrams per 100 grams. That’s way too much for a patient with gouty arthritis. The protein from soybeans has many health benefits, and this food also contains isoflavones. So, it is not an unhealthy food by itself but should be cut off if you’re worried about your uric acid levels.