What to Eat to Prevent Gout Flare Ups?

March 11, 2024

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Gout is an extremely painful form of arthritis that occurs when high levels of uric acid crystallize and deposit in the joints, tendons, or surrounding tissue. These crystal deposits cause severe inflammation, swelling, redness, and excruciating pain in the affected joint – most commonly the big toe, knee, or ankle.

Gout flare-ups can be sudden, frequent, and debilitating if uric acid levels are not properly managed. An estimated 8.3 million Americans suffer from gout, with numbers rising along with rates of obesity, hypertension, and diabetesFortunately, adjusting your diet and making key lifestyle changes can dramatically lower uric acid levels to prevent gout attacks.

This comprehensive guide examines how to prevent gout flare-ups through diet and nutrition. Read on to learn which foods help reduce uric acid versus those that should be limited or avoided altogether. You’ll also discover helpful tips for long term gout management.

How Does Food Impact Gout Flare-Ups?

Gout flare-ups occur when excess uric acid in the bloodstream crystallizes. Our bodies naturally produce uric acid during the metabolic breakdown of purines, which are compounds found in many foods.

Those with gout lack sufficient amounts of the uricase enzyme, which is responsible for processing and removing uric acid from the body via urine. Over time, uric acid accumulation causes tiny needle-like crystals to form in the joints and soft tissues. Even minor physical impact or movements can then aggravate these jagged crystals, triggering inflammation and gout attacks.

Managing gout relies heavily upon lowering total uric acid levels through medication, lifestyle factors, and avoiding foods high in purines.

Top 15 Best Foods to Prevent Gout Flare-Ups

Consistently consuming foods shown to reduce uric acid levels and fight inflammation are vital for gout prevention.

Tart Cherries

Tart Cherries

Tart cherries contain powerful anti-inflammatory compounds called anthocyanins, which substantially lower uric acid levels. Fresh, frozen, dried, or juice forms are all beneficial. Tart cherries are one of the single best foods to prevent gout flare-ups.

Strawberries

Strawberries

Like cherries, strawberries rank extremely high on the ORAC scale (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) for antioxidant and anti-inflammatory strength. Their rich nutrient profile makes them a superfruit for gout relief.

Blueberries

Blueberries

Bursting with free radical-fighting antioxidants, blueberries provide a heavy dose of anthocyanins, vitamin C, fiber and phytonutrients. Consume them fresh or frozen for best nutrition.

Pomegranates

Pomegranates

Pomegranates offer anti-inflammatory and antioxidant protection while also lowering uric acid concentrations. Drink pure pomegranate juice or sprinkle the arils onto salads.

Apples

Apples

Apples’ high fiber and antioxidant content promotes optimal health. Quercetin, in particular, exerts strong anti-inflammatory actions and vitamin C lowers uric acid production.

Grapes

Grapes

Grapes contain reservatrol and vitamin K, both of which substantially control inflammation. Certain pigment-rich grape varieties also boost antioxidant capacity.

Oranges

Oranges

Oranges and orange juice supply inflammation-lowering vitamin C and potassium. They also make the body’s pH levels less acidic, discouraging uric acid crystals.

Spinach

Spinach

Spinach contains generous amounts of phytochemicals like kaempferol that check inflammation in the body. It also provides plant-based protein, iron, calcium, vitamin C and fiber.

Olive Oil

Olive Oil

Monounsaturated fats like olive oil actually reduce inflammation levels in the blood when used instead of saturated/trans fats. Stock up on high quality, cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil.

Walnuts

Walnuts

Walnuts not only taste delicious, but provide anti-inflammatory omega-3s, magnesium, antioxidants, and plant-based protein for gout protection.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes

Vitamin C weakens inflammatory cytokines while potassium lowers uric acid levels, making sweet potatoes an A+ choice for gout sufferers.

Bell Peppers

Bell Peppers

Red and green bell peppers contain extremely high concentrations of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory vitamin C. The potent capsaicin in hot chili peppers also alleviates gout.

Celery

Celery

Celery seeds feature potent anti-inflammatory properties to fend off gout. Celery stalks are highly hydrating and rich in vitamin K, vitamin C, and potassium too.

Tart Black Cherries

Tart Black Cherries

Much like their close cousin the tart cherry, black cherries bring exceptional antioxidant and anti-inflammatory strength against gout flare-ups.

Fatty Fish

Fatty Fish

Salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna supply beneficial omega-3 fats called EPA and DHA that govern inflammation levels in the body and brain. Baked/grilled is best.

In a rush? Check out this quick list of the absolute best foods for preventing painful gout attacks:

  • Tart cherries
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Pomegranates
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Oranges
  • Spinach
  • Olive oil
  • Walnuts

7 Foods to Avoid with Gout

Now that you know which foods can help prevent gout symptoms, it’s equally important to limit or outright avoid foods sky-high in purines – as they directly raise uric acid levels in the body.

Here are 7 primary foods gout suffers should steer clear of:

Organ Meats

Organ meats like liver, kidneys, sweetbreads and brain contain the highest purine concentrations. It’s best to strictly avoid these to prevent gout attacks.

Red Meat & Fatty Cuts

Beef, pork, lamb and game meats are all high in purines and should be eaten sparingly. Opt for leaner cuts since saturated fats inflame gout.

Certain Seafood

Shellfish, sardines, anchovies, tuna, trout, mackerel and haddock bring heavy purine loads and often trigger painful gout flare-ups.

Sugary Foods & Beverages

Sodas, sweet tea, candy, ice cream, pastries and other sugar-loaded foods spike insulin levels and inflammation markers for those with gout.

Refined Carbohydrates

These include white bread, white pasta, white rice, chips and pretzels. Opting for whole grain alternatives is best to avoid gout complications.

Alcohol

All types of alcohol lead to dehydration and temporarily higher uric acid levels, although beer appears the worst offender for gout suffers.

Yeast & Brewer’s Yeast

Breads, beer and extracts containing brewer’s yeast should be avoided due to their high purine content. Stick to yeast-free bread options.

For best gout management, severely restrict or avoid the above foods completely. Be sure to readily consume the 15 gout-friendly foods mentioned instead to lower your risk of painful flare-ups.

Helpful Tips to Prevent Gout

Dietary adjustments form the core of gout prevention, but several other lifestyle factors massively impact uric acid levels as well. Employ these gout-fighting tips for life:

Stay Very Well Hydrated

Chronic dehydration elevates uric acid concentrations in the blood, setting the stage for gout flare-ups. Make a conscious effort to drink at least 2 to 4 liters of water daily, alongside herbal teas. Minimize diuretic coffees/teas though, as they promote dehydration.

Lose Excess Weight

Carrying extra body fat strains the joints, fuels systemic inflammation, and is linked to higher uric acid levels. Losing even 10% of your current weight can dramatically lower gout incidence.

Limit Alcohol

All types of alcohol interfere with uric acid excretion, especially beer with its high brewer’s yeast content. Moderation is key for those battling gout.

Increase Vitamin C

Vitamin C aids uric acid elimination while also mitigating inflammatory cytokines in the blood. Take 250-500mg vitamin C daily.

Take Tart Cherry Extract

Standardized tart cherry extract capsules make it easy to enjoy cherries’ immense anti-gout benefits. They’re scientifically proven to reduce gout attacks.

Consider Milk Thistle

Milk thistle boosts liver and kidney function, helping remove excess uric acid. It also blocks inflammatory pathways tied to gout pain. Those with gout often show improvements taking milk thistle.

Avoid Crash Diets

Very low calorie and rapid weight loss “crash” diets can spike uric acid levels substantially, triggering painful gout complications. Steady, modest weight loss is best.

Stay Active

Exercise helps shed dangerous visceral fat, lower inflammation, and decrease uric acid levels for better gout control. Walking, swimming and low-impact activities are great options.

Limit Fructose

Fructose is a prime driver of higher uric acid levels in those with gout or metabolic syndrome risk factors. Restrict high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and juice intake.

Increase Plant Proteins

Chickpeas, lentils, peas, beans and tofu contain decent protein levels while being low in purines. Swap them for meat several times a week.

Consider Tart Cherry Juice

Tart cherry juice provides the powerhouse nutrition of over 20 cherries in just one serving! Sipping 2 cups daily can significantly lower gout occurrence long term.

Stay Stress-Free

Chronic stress and anxiety spikes cortisol and adrenaline output, fueling systemic inflammation that worsens gout. Make relaxation and sufficient sleep high priorities.

Take Anti-Inflammatory Herbs

Natural supplements like turmeric, boswellia, ginger and bromelain help control pain and inflammation pathways tied to gout flare-ups.

Use Hot & Cold Therapy

Applying a cold pack to painful gout joints for 15 minutes, followed by a moist heating pad for 15 minutes can help reduce swelling and discomfort.

Wear Protective Footwear

Cushioned shoes with ample toe room decrease friction and impact on gout-prone joints like the big toe and ball of the foot. Barefoot walking raises risk.

See Your Doctor

If home remedies and diet changes don’t resolve gout after several weeks, seek medical advice. Your doctor can prescribe uric acid-lowering drugs as needed to prevent attacks.

Making the right lifestyle choices and avoiding dietary pitfalls is critical for those hoping to prevent the utter agony of gout flare-ups. Just be patient and consistent applying these gout-fighting tips and you should see your uric acid levels normalize dramatically over time.

Here’s to a gout-free life!

Frequently Asked Questions About Gout Prevention:

What is the fastest way to relieve gout pain at home?

The fastest way to relieve gout pain at home is to rest the affected joint, keep it elevated on a pillow, apply wrapped ice packs to reduce swelling, take anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen if tolerated, and avoid putting pressure on the area until pain dissipates.

What foods neutralize uric acid levels?

The best foods scientifically shown to effectively lower troublesome uric acid levels include: tart cherries, strawberries, blueberries, oranges, bell peppers, spinach, walnuts and fatty fish like salmon and tuna.

Does apple cider vinegar help gout?

Yes! Taking just 1-2 tablespoons of raw, organic apple cider vinegar mixed into water daily can help neutralize excess acidity in the body while acetic acid seems to interfere with uric acid production. Those with gout often report fewer flare-ups when taking ACV.

Can losing weight cure gout?

Since excess body fat fuels higher uric acid levels and systemic inflammation, maintaining a healthy body weight is extremely helpful for controlling gout. Losing just 10% of your current weight can lower uric acid substantially to prevent painful gout attacks.

Does drinking more water help gout?

Chronic dehydration is a primary driver of elevated uric acid levels in the blood, which then crystallize in the joints as needle-like shards, causing gout swelling and pain. When dehydrated, the kidneys cannot effectively filter uric acid. Drinking at least 2 to 4 liters of pure water daily is key.

In closing, making smart modifications to your daily diet and nutrition intake is arguably the most powerful way to avoid gout flare ups triggered by excess uric acid formation. Tart cherry and citrus fruit intake, plenty of fresh vegetables, avoiding organ meats/shellfish, staying well hydrated, managing healthy body weight and controlling alcohol intake gives you the best chances of successfully preventing extremely painful gout attacks!

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