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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  • Slippitt

    Hi,Ive had gout in my big toe for about a week, my doctor as started me on colchicine tablets I am a bit worried because 2years ago I had a kidney transplant could gout cause damage to my new kidney, l drink plenty of water but I must change my diet, Please help, Thanks.

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

      Gout can cause kidney stones which could affect any kidney. It would be rare to cause damage but it’s possible. You should talk to your doctor. Depending on your uric acid level, and other considerations, your doctor might want to start you on some daily medicine to lower the level. The decision would be between you and your doctor but be sure he/she knows about your kidney transplant.

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  • BBSteve

    pretty simple – eat horrible tasting food, spit out anything that tastes good (old saying), eat less, and live longer without pain – seems to be the cure with everything that ails you – your decision…

  • will91450

    Hi Everyone, I’ve had gout for 3-4 years. If there was anyone I hated I’d wish it on them. Not really, lol Anyway, I had a 1/2 a pice of bacon the other day and had pain in my big toe for 3 days. Stated using Braggs ACV and it went away the next day. I take ACV twice a day, 1 or 2 tablespoons in in 8 ozs of water with a squirt of black cherry Mio. The Mio really makes the ACV go down easy. I’ve also change my diet and take 300 mg of allopurinol daily which doesn’t seem to help much. ACV seems to be the best for me.

  • Carol Gravlin

    I have been using black cherry capsules 1000 mg 3 times a day have not had a flair up in a year.

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

      Thanks, Carol.

  • useless

    Two teaspoons of lard. One in the morning and one in the afternoon followed bY one liter of mountain dew

  • Lance

    My one and only major gout attack appears to have been brought on by beans. Four straight days of chili and bean soup and then a very rich venison steak on day five. Having limited my intake I’ve never had another one. There have been a couple of occasions where I feel one might be coming on and the anti-inflammatories end it immediately.

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

      Interesting, Lance. Thanks for sharing.

  • Karen Cooper

    `100% juice raw, organic, cherry, blueberry, pomegranate has helped my Mom. Read article where the pure juices did help. Yes, it has my Mom!
    She has always watched what she consumes.
    She is 79 and this is the only problem she has had.
    We also were told to watch protein consumption.

  • Laurie Trewhitt

    Over 4 years of crippling gouty arthritis, 17 doctors tests, yet finding low uric acid levels and fine thyroid… allopurinol, colchicine and ibuprophen helped a bit but I found that plenty of water and unsweetened cranberry juice or cranberries has kept gout flair ups down to a minimum, unless I’m on my feet for a long time. I keep forgetting to drink down a big mouthful of apple cider vinegar! I’ll take anything natural any day, over what those chemical tablets do to the body!

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

      Thanks, Laurie.