What Causes the Arthritis Known as Gout?

Along with amino acids that make up proteins and other molecules, purines are a source of nitrogen for your body. When they are processed, purines break down into uric acid so that the body can get rid of excess nitrogen. In some of us, uric acid is not processed properly, and the concentration of uric acid in the bloodstream is too high. When this happens, the molecule forms small crystals that deposit in joints, causing a painful arthritis known as gout.

As a result, foods that are high in purines can cause problems for people with gout. Limiting these ingredients is key to helping prevent a flare of the arthritis, but there are other measures that can help prevent gout as well.

Preventing Gout Symptoms - a Diet for Gout

One is to limit the intake of alcohol. We also know that people who are overweight are at higher risk for gout and weight loss is important in preventing gout flares. A low fat, heart healthy diet is valuable because high fat diets can increase the retention of uric acid.

Legumes such as peas, peanuts, beans and soy products contain moderate levels of purines. These ingredients can be included in the diet carefully, however. Many foods other than legumes contain purine molecules, and those foods more likely to provoke a flare of gout are most organ meats (kidneys, liver, sweetbreads), game meats (like venison), anchovies, sardines, herring, mackerel and scallops.

Ask Dr. Gourmet

Dr. Harlan answers your questions about diet, arthritis and gout.

What can you eat if you have gout and diabetes and are on Coumadin (warfarin)?

My husband has gout, GERD, and is on Coumadin. What can I cook for him?

How many milligrams of potassium would be acceptable in a recipe if you are trying to bring your potassium levels down?

Would a vegetarian diet elevate my serum uric acid?

My husband has gout. What proteins can he eat?

How can diet help avoid kidney stones or gout?

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To help prevent symptoms of gout, avoid foods that are high in purines. Here's a list of the purine content in foods.

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Gout? Drink Coffee!
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