How can changing my diet help with gout?
Gout is a condition caused by a high level of urate in the body. Urate can form crystals in the joints, causing sudden attacks of severe pain and inflammation. Making the following changes to your diet and lifestyle can help to reduce the levels of urate in your body:
- Lose weight if you’re overweight as this can reduce urate levels in the body. It must be done gradually. Extreme weight loss or fasting can actually raise urate levels because it speeds up the breakdown of cells in the body.
- Drink less alcohol, especially beer, as drinking too much alcohol is often linked with gout. If you have gout you should aim to keep your alcohol intake to around 1–2 units a day.
- Drink plenty of water to avoid becoming dehydrated and to help to ‘flush out’ excess urate and prevent it from crystallising in the joints. You should drink at least 1 litre (about 2 pints) of non-alcoholic fluids per day, or up to 3.5 litres (about 6 pints) if you have kidney stones.
Drinking sugar-sweetened soft drinks and fructose-rich fruits and juices may be linked with an increased risk of gout. Diet soft drinks don’t appear to increase the risk.
Foods that contain a lot of purines may play a part in the build-up of urate, so cutting down on purine-rich foods may be helpful. Aim to reduce the amount of protein you get from meat – for example, by eating one less portion of meat or fish per day. This can be replaced by other sources of protein, such as beans, eggs, pulses or low-fat dairy products.
Urate levels aren’t affected by acidic fruits and there’s some evidence that higher vitamin C intake can help to reduce the risk of gout attacks. So you can include fruits like oranges and grapefruit in your diet. There’s some evidence to suggest that cherries (as fruit or juice, fresh or preserved) may be helpful, and that drinking a glass of skimmed milk every day can help to prevent acute attacks of gout.