Gout Foods to Avoid List

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This survival-medicine website provides general information, not individual advice. Most scenarios assume the victim cannot get expert medical help. Please see the disclaimer.

Preventing Gout Flare-ups With or Without Medicine

“The Gout,” by James Gillray, published May 1799. In a 2005 article in London’s “The Independent” newspaper, art critic Tom Lubbock calls this “perhaps the first close-up” and says “this framing reflects how, for the sufferer, the gouty foot looms large and separate, the centre of attention.” Gout was a much talked-about ailment in the 18th century—to people then “what melancholy was to the high Renaissance, or stomach ulcers were to the 1950s,” says an article in the April 14, 2012, issue of “The Lancet.” Alcohol-based “bitters” was one purported remedy.

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

Several readers have asked me what to do for gout. Do natural remedies help? What’s a “gout foods to avoid list?”

No one needs a gout flair-up during a disaster. For those who don’t know, a gout attack usually consists of an extremely painful, red, swollen single joint. The most common is at the base of a big toe, but it can happen to any joint. If someone comes in and tells me they can’t even let a bedsheet touch the joint area because of the pain, I’m pretty sure it’s gout.

For an acute attack like the above, the best treatment is an anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as ibuprofen (200 mg to 800 mg) or naproxen (500 mg). Of course ask your doctor about this, especially if you’re taking other medications or have stomach, kidney, or liver problems. There are some prescription medicines that may be a little better, but the NSAIDs usually do the job within 24 hours. Ice packs for about five minutes at a time on the joint can help. You can read more of the American College of Rheumatology guidelines here (PDF download).

The long-term goal, though, is to prevent these flair-ups in the first place. They‘re caused by your body’s build-up of the chemical uric acid (a byproduct of the breakdown of the protein purine). Everyone accumulates uric acid—no problem—but some of you are born with a tendency to make too much or an inability to excrete it efficiently in your kidneys. The extra uric acid builds up as urate crystals in your joints and leads to the flair-ups. But even when you’re pain-free, the uric acid can be entering your joints and can lead to arthritis. The crystals can also form into kidney stones.

Bottom line is your going to need to lower that uric acid down to normal levels by taking prescription medications. But diet and other measures, such as losing excess weight, exercising, and drinking eight eight-ounce glasses of water per day can help.

And guess what. The American College of Rheumatology just came out with a gout foods to avoid list. They list food to avoid completely, foods to limit, and foods to eat more of. Here it is, with a few comments of my own in parenthesis.

Gout Foods to Avoid
  • Organ meats (liver, kidney, sweetbreads).
  • High-fructose-sweetened foods or sodas.
  • Alcohol: No more than 2 ounces of liquor, 8 ounces of wine, or 16 ounces of beer per day in males. No more than half of that in women. (More increases the risk of breast cancer, or women would have the same limit as men.) No alcohol at all during acute attacks, if acute attacks are frequent, or if gout is poorly controlled (always the situation if you’re out of your prescription medicine).
Gout Foods to Limit
  • Beef, lamb, pork.
  • Seafood high in purines, such as sardines, shellfish, etc.
  • Any sweets, including naturally sweetened fruit juices.
  • Salt.
  • Alcohol, especially beer (see “Gout Foods to Avoid” above).
Gout Foods to Encourage (Eat More)
  • Low-fat products.
  • Nondairy products.
  • Vegetables.
Special Gout Food: Cherries

Cherries have long been touted as preventive treatment for gout by lowering uric acid. A recent study in the prestigious medical journal Arthritis and Rheumatism lends new credence to this theory. Although the entire study isn’t available free online, the Medscape website (a site for medical professionals from WebMD) interviewed the author (membership required at the link).

The researchers studied 633 people with known gout for a year. The ones taking prescription medicine had 53 percent fewer attacks than those who took nothing. The ones who ate 10–12 cherries, or the equivalent extract, a day had 32 percent fewer attacks (less of a reduction than with the prescription medicine but still significant). Those who ate the cherries and took the prescription medicine had 75 percent fewer attacks.

Bottom line, do all of the above, and your risk of gout attacks and gout damage go down dramatically. But until you can get your prescription medicine, you can decrease your risk of acute gout attacks by avoid certain foods and eating more of others.

Do you or does someone you know have gout? What’s been your experience?

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  • Pham Le

    Eat 2 lbs of tiny cucumber to release the pain. It works for me

    • http://thesurvivaldoctor.com/ James Hubbard, MD, MPH

      Thanks for sharing

  • Lanette Dunham Smeltzer

    My father has had severe gout for sometime and unfortunately is allergic to NSAIDS and the preventive midication for gout so we have to manage his gout solely through his diet. The only meats he eats is chicken and turkey, they are lower in purine than other meats and he doesn’t eat any of the foods on the list of ones to avoid. He eats tons of fresh veggies and fruits, however there is also a list of those to avoid as well, I found this list on the mayo clinic website. Hope this helps someone in the same situation. Good Luck

    • http://thesurvivaldoctor.com/ James Hubbard, MD, MPH

      Thanks, Lanette.

  • Norman P Gregas

    Old herbal remedies recommend Juniper Berry tea for gout. I found that a shot of gin, which any good gin is made from juniper berries, works even better.

    • http://thesurvivaldoctor.com/ James Hubbard, MD, MPH

      Thanks, Norman.

  • alouish

    Hi All, found this blog searching on gout + celiac + thyroid. my husband is 39 and was diagnosed with gout 4 years ago.. since then he has had 6 acute flare ups, plus 3 in the last 3 months. He was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s (TSH critical high), then diagnosed with Celiac.. and he has no symptoms of either of these disorders. Started on synthroid a month ago. Today we were back at his PCP to get a script for medrol since he can’t tolerate indomethicin or colchicine. PCP is running a Lyme disease test plus thyroid studies and the usual suspects, uric acid, CMP. we are really hopeful to get to the bottom of what is causing this, because he is otherwise healthy of normal weight, and he eats mainly vegetables and rarely drinks alchohol.

    • Sylphi

      I’d like to know the results. I’ve been suffering almost 4yrs, ie since late 30s. I’m female, slender, I eat healthily and never drink. Makes no sense to me.

      • alouish

        Lyme Disease test was negative. He ended up having to go on Allopurinol to lower his uric acid. He has also been taking a shot of Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar (with the mother) every day and it really seems to keep him gout free. He forgot to take it a couple days and felt a flare up starting so got back on it and has been feeling pretty good. I don’t believe we’ve gotten to the real root cause of his issues, but he has a new PCP who is running all sorts of tests. Good luck to you! Try the ACV, it really seems to help.

        • Sylphi

          Thanks! I’ve got some ACV with mother! I’ll go down some now!

    • http://thesurvivaldoctor.com/ James Hubbard, MD, MPH

      I wish him the best.

      • alouish

        thank you

  • jesse

    I am in so much pain all the time and in pretty great shape I have lost weight to try to help the problem and it still happens to me I need to eat better foods I think I’m having too much protein? Anyone has any suggestions

    • Lanette Dunham Smeltzer

      veggies and only chicken and turkey for meat works for my dad

    • http://thesurvivaldoctor.com/ James Hubbard, MD, MPH

      Any specific locations for the pain? Have you seen a doctor? Tried exercise such as swimming?

  • Forrest J

    For the past 5 months I have been consuming Low Fat Greek Yogurt every morning. NO MORE GOUT ! ! ! I took the advice of one of your bloggers. It really works. No more meds ! ! ! Eat anything you want.

    • http://thesurvivaldoctor.com/ James Hubbard, MD, MPH

      Great, Forrest. Thanks for sharing.

  • Bobbi

    I find cherries or cherry juice to be SOO effective. For me, it works within a few hours. My aunt and uncle have also been grateful for the relief they have had from cherries since sharing this tip with them! Ouch no more!
    Thanks!!!

  • Theresa

    I am a 50 year old women who has suffered from gout for the past two years. My mother also has gout. I also have hypothyroidism which I am told could be a contributing factor. I have several food allergies so to find out that I need to limit my food choices even further was hard to stomach. I have taken cherry juice over the last two years which seems to help but recently my gout has gotten worse to the point where I was thinking I may have to start taking medication. I decided to research online if there were any natural remedies for treating gout and I came across an article by Dr. Jonathan Wright MD who suggested Lithium Orotate supplements and epson salt foot soaks. I had some Lithium Orotate and took one dose and within a few hours my gout pain was significantly reduced. I then took 3 epson salt foot soaks over the next two days and another dose of Lithium Orotate for the next three days. By the third day my pain was gone which had lasted for over two weeks and had been getting worse with each passing day to the point where I could hardly stand to be on my feet for more than a few minutes at a time also the pain had been waking me up during the night. Currently I am taking only half a pill of Lithium Orotate a day. The Lithium also has reduced my appetite causing me to eat less and to lose weight as well, a nice little bonus!

    • http://thesurvivaldoctor.com/ James Hubbard, MD, MPH

      Theresa, I’m glad your better. Please be sure to read thoroughly about the interactions and side effects of lithium orotate. For example, one is a warning about taking it if you have thyroid disease. If you haven’t, I’d also check with your doctor, at least once, to evaluate your kidney function, uric acid level, thyroid level, etc. and tell the doctor about all meds, including supplements that you are taking. If you don’t have a doctor, perhaps find an M.D. or D.O. that has a special interest in complementary and alternative medicine.

  • T

    I have seen some NPs prescribe Ledum Pal to their patients for gout treatment or prevention.