Given the direct link of gout to uric acid levels, managing it depends primarily on a strategy for eating well and managing the intake of foods that contribute to increased uric acid levels. Healthy kidney function is important as well, since uric acid is removed from the blood by the kidneys. The kidneys rely on the heart to efficiently pump the blood through the body. People who are overweight are more prone to heart disease, so staying physically active and managing weight can help in controlling gout.
When the body processes purines from foods and other sources, uric acid is a byproduct. One way to help reduce the level of uric acid being produced by the body is to reduce the level of purine intake through food.
Managing gout includes monitoring the type of foods and beverages you are consuming, making sure to avoid food or drinks that are high in purines that can cause a build-up of uric acid and trigger a gout attack.
Consult with a registered dietician to learn more about what food and diet adjustments make sense for your needs. Some people have found the following foods to be helpful in managing their gout, however, each person’s experience will vary.
skim milk and other low-fat dairy products
cherries and citrus fruits
vitamin C supplements (500–1,000 milligrams daily)
If you are considering adding vitamins or supplements to your diet, it is recommended to first discuss with your treating doctor.
While diets high in meat and fats are more commonly known to trigger gout attacks, vegan and vegetarian diets can also trigger a gout attack depending on what type of foods are being consumed. If you already avoid all of the recommended foods listed above but are still struggling with gout attacks, talk with your doctor, and ask to speak to a dietitian who can help you find meal plan options that work for you.
Eating well to control weight
Gout is more common in people who are overweight. Losing weight and maintaining a healthy body weight can help manage gout. Losing weight reduces uric acid levels in the blood – and for many people, the more weight they lose, the more their uric acid levels decrease. Maintaining a healthy weight also decreases the risk of heart disease, which has been shown to contribute to gout symptoms.
Proper nutrition is vital to controlling body weight. Here are three ways to cut back on excess calories:
Reduce fat intake: A healthy diet should include a small amount of unsaturated fats and limited amounts of saturated and trans fats. Choosing the right amount and types of fats can help you achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.
Reduce processed and added sugars: Processed and refined sugars add extra calories that can contribute to weight gain. Additional fat tissue from weight gain can also increase an inflammation response.
Eat more fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables should make up the largest component of your diet. Sugar intake is still a concern when eating fruit, even though it has natural sugars. Consider eating mostly low sugar fruits to reduce your overall sugar intake. Try to have at least one fruit or vegetable at every meal and while snacking. In addition to being an excellent source of energy, fruit and vegetables increase your fibre intake, which can help with weight management. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants, which help boost the immune system and may help maintain healthy joints.
Try to avoid triggers
Gout is often brought on by external stresses, so being aware of these and avoiding them where possible can assist in preventing further attacks. These are some of the triggers that can bring on gout attacks:
forgetting to take your gout medication
crash diets and fasting
drinking too much alcohol
eating large quantities of foods high in purines dehydration
This gout resource was reviewed in October 2022 with expert advice from:
Dr. Jean-Philip Deslauriers
Clinical Professor at the University of Sherbrooke
Bathurst, New Brunswick