While diet isn’t the only contributing factor when it comes to gout, there are many foods that cause gout when consumed in excess. Gout is caused by a buildup of uric acid in the system. The uric acid crystallizes and is deposited in the joints and soft tissues of the body, causing pain and inflammation. Uric acid is formed during the breakdown of purines, substances that are both naturally produced by the body and found in many foods. Unnaturally high blood uric acid levels can be caused either by either by over-consumption of purine-rich foods or by the kidney’s inability to extract excess uric acid from the bloodstream.
Organ meats are among the greatest offenders. Avoid kidney, liver, sweetbreads, and brain meats. While that last one may be a true sacrifice, remember that it’s for your health. Certain seafoods like herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and scallops are also packed with purines, as are game meats such as lamb, duck, and deer. Concentrated meat stocks, such as consommés and gravies are also rich purine sources. Mushrooms, peas, spinach, asparagus, cauliflower, and dried beans are also high in purines.
Alcohol Is a Factor
Alcohol can pack a double punch when it comes to gout. Alcohol, particularly beer, contains a high concentration of purines, and can also limit the kidney’s ability to process uric acid. Hard alcohol seems to cause less of an increase in blood uric acid levels than beer, and wine even less than hard alcohol. Alcohol intake on an empty stomach is particularly likely to increase blood uric acid levels. Research also indicates that alcoholic gout patients experience gout pain at lower blood uric acid levels than non-alcoholic patients. Alcoholic gout patients also have higher blood uric acid levels when intoxicated than when sober.
In All Things, Moderation
Gout used to be known as a rich man’s disease, because the foods and beverages that caused attacks weren’t regularly consumed by the lower classes, if they were consumed at all. Suffering from gout doesn’t mean that you have to give up all purine-rich foods forever, but you should consume them only in moderation.
“Gout: Causes – MayoClinic.com.” Mayo Clinic. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Dec. 2010. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/gout/DS00090/DSECTION=causes.
“Q&A About Gout.” Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Home Page. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Dec. 2010. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Gout/default.asp.