If you’ve ever been to a zoo or spent some time in a wildlife park, you’re probably familiar with the sign “Don’t Feed the Animals.” Among other things, the proscription is partially because feeding wild animals—say, coyotes—may increase the risk that they will associate humans with food and be encouraged to attack. Here’s another sign that could be helpful in preventing an altogether different kind of attack: “Don’t Feed the Gout.” Although attacks can be quite painful, the disease is highly controllable—it’s all about what you put into your body.
Gout attacks are caused when uric acid crystalizes in your joints, creating severe pain and swelling. Uric acid is a product of your digestive system breaks down purines, common in certain foods and drinks. So, if you’re prone to these attacks, the prevention roadmap is pretty simple—limit your purine intake.
What does that cross out? For starters, most animal proteins are foods to avoid—they’re high in purine content, particularly red meats, organ meats, poultry, fatty fish, and other seafood. You’ll also need to be especially careful with alcohol—an occasional glass of wine is probably fine, but too much alcohol (and especially beer) not only increases the amount of uric acid in your bloodstream, but also makes it harder for your body to filter it out. Refined carbs and foods sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup—soda, candy, etc.—are also a definite no-no.
Instead, opt for fresh veggies and fruits (particularly citrus fruits), low-fat dairy, and whole grains. If you’re a meat lover, opt for leaner cuts and smaller portions, and supplement with a greater selection of plant-based proteins, like beans and legumes.
Drinking lots of fluids is also important to help your body filter uric acid out of your bloodstream efficiently. Water is the best for this task, but unsweetened juices, teas, and even coffee can be good for gout, too.
When you need help dealing with the pain of an attack, or if you just want a little more advice on what you can and can’t feed it, stop in for a visit with Victoria L. Melhuish, DPM in Gardnerville, NV. You can set up an appointment online, or by dialing (775) 783-8037.