Do you have gout? This rheumatic disease, which causes pain or inflammation in the joints or muscles, is the result of too much uric acid in the blood and tissues.

Uric acid is produced when the body breaks down substances called purines, which are compounds found in foods and drinks such as beans, some fish, and beer. Typically, uric acid is filtered by the kidneys and subsequently is passed out in urine. However, if your body produces too much uric acid, or your kidneys aren't filtering it properly, the uric acid can form crystals in the joints. Too much uric acid can put you at risk for kidney disease, kidney stones, and gout.

Treating Gout

Because gout is an inflammatory disease, anti-inflammatory medicines can quell occasional flare-ups. However, to truly treat the cause, dietary changes are necessary. Since gout occurs when the body produces high levels of uric acid, it's essential to avoid foods with high levels of purines. These foods include:

1. Meat, poultry, and fish. Red meat, organ meats, and mackerel in particular are high in purines.

2. Alcohol. While alcohol doesn't necessarily contain purines, it does inhibit the body's ability to filter uric acid through the kidneys.

3. High-fructose corn syrup. According to the Mayo Clinic, "[f]ructose is the only carbohydrate known to increase uric acid. It is best to avoid beverages sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, such as soft drinks or juice drinks."

4. Some vegetables. Believe it or not, some vegetables can trigger gout flare-ups. Avoid asparagus, spinach, cauliflower, and mushrooms, all of which tend to be high in purines.

What to Eat

While some foods can trigger gout, others can help alleviate it. Try to increase your intake of the following fare:

1. Lowfat foods. Opt for lower fat or fat-free dairy products, which studies suggest help lower the risk of flare-ups.

2. Berries. The dark varieties, like blackberries and blueberries, have been shown to help limit the production of uric acid.

3. Vitamin C. A study conducted by Johns Hopkins University found that vitamin C significantly lowers uric acid levels in the body. So load up on oranges, red bell peppers, and kiwi.

Alison Massey reviewed this article.




Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Gout." Web. Page last updated 1 August 2011. Page accessed 19 August 2013.

MedlinePlus. "Uric Acid-Blood." National Institutes of Health. Web. Page updated 1 May 2012. Page accessed 19 August 2013.

Juraschek SPMiller ER IIIGelber AC. "Effect of Oral Vitamin C Supplementation on Serum Uric Acid: a Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials." Arthritis Care Res 2011; 63(9):1295-306. doi: 10.1002/acr.20519. Web. Page accessed 22 August 2013.