Gout is one of the most painful types of arthritis and is characterized by sudden, severe bouts of redness, swelling, warmth, pain, and inflammation in one or more joints. Gout is typically treated with diet and medication. Lifestyle recommendations are usually made to gout patients, too. People with gout are advised to avoid alcohol or drink alcohol in moderation, drink plenty of water and fluids, maintain an ideal body weight, lose weight if overweight but avoid fasting or quick weight loss schemes, and to avoid eating foods high in purines.
What to Eat If You Have Gout
While it's important for people with gout to avoid purine-rich foods, people want to know what they should eat. Dietary guidelines have changed over time. The most current recommendations, according to UpToDate, suggest that gout patients eat or drink:
- Low-fat dairy products
- Foods made with complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, brown rice, oats, and beans
- A moderate amount of wine, up to two 5 ounce servings per day (Note: While it was once thought that wine was harmless for gout patients, study results in the January 2014 American Journal of Medicine concluded that "individuals with gout should limit alcohol intake of all types to reduce the risk of recurrent gout attacks."
- Coffee (may lower serum uric acid levels)
- Vitamin C (500 mg per day may mildly lower uric acid levels)
Dietary changes, without taking gout medication, are not thought to significantly lower blood uric acid levels. Gout diet alone, even when followed strictly, lowers blood uric acid levels by only 15% to 20%.
In 2012, the American College of Rheumatology updated guidelines for the treatment of gout. The foods they suggested that gout patients avoid or limit are listed in:
In the guidelines, low-fat and non-fat dairy products and vegetables were recommended.
The Bottom Line
Gout patients should consume a low-purine diet largely consisting of low-fat dairy products, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, nuts, and grains. Avoid high-purine foods and foods containing high-fructose corn syrup.
Patient Information: Gout (Beyond the Basics). Michael A. Becker, MD. UpToDate. Last reviewed July 2013.
2012 American College of Rheumatology Guidelines for Management of Gout. Part 1: Systematic Nonpharmacologic and Pharmacologic Therapeutic Approaches to Hyperuricemia. Khanna D. et al. Arthritis Care and Research. Volume 64 No. 10. October 2012.
Dietary Guidelines for Gout Patients. Gout & Uric Acid Society. Accessed 08/13/13.