Updated 02 November 2016

5 dietary changes to avoid gout

Gout is a type of arthritis which usually affects only one or two joints in the body. Do you suffer from it? Find out how the foods you eat can make gout better - or worse.

Gout is a type of arthritis, which usually affects only one or two joints in the body. The most characteristic joint in which gout develops is the big toe.

Gout is caused by deposits of urate crystals in the joints. Urate is one of the breakdown product of purines - compounds commonly found in certain foods.

Usually gouty inflammation of the joints only last for a few days, but it can be so excruciatingly painful that sufferers never forget an episode.

Unfortunately gout has habit of recurring, however, there are changes you can make to your diet to reduce the number or severity of your gout attacks and joint pain.

Here are five dietary changes you can make to avoid flare-ups:

1. Lose some weight

If you are overweight or obese you are at an increased risk of developing gout. In this instance, you should try to reduce your weight gradually and steadily, using a healthy, balanced diet andexercise.

Gradual weight loss is key. Starvation or very-low-energy diets cause blood urate levels rise dramatically when body proteins are broken down due to starvation or very low energy intake and increase the risk of an acute gout attack.

People with gout should, therefore, also not use detoxification or purification diets as these may also precipitate a flare-up.

2. Reduce your alcohol intake

Cut down your alcohol intake drastically. Alcohol, particularly beer, is high in purines which is why indulging in alcohol can often trigger a gout attack.

If necessary avoid all alcohol or restrict drinking to less than two drinks a day. A harsh, but effective way of preventing gout.

3. Avoid gorging and high-purine foods

Avoid rich, heavy meals which contain lots of fat and purines - i.e. the typical Christmas dinner is an excellent example of a meal laden with fat and purines.

Avoid high-purine foods like liver, kidneys, sweetbreads, sardines, anchovies, fish roes (eggs and caviar) and meat extracts.

4. Drink more water

Drink six or more glasses of water throughout the day and a glass at night before going to bed to help the kidneys excrete urates.

5. Go easy on caffeinated drinks

Don't overdo tea and coffee drinking and switch to rooibos tea if you find your joints start aching after a coffee/tea binge.

Moderation and abstinence from alcohol - those are the solutions to gout. 

Read more:

14 foods that cause gout

Sugary drinks up gout risk in women

Gout and diet: the latest research


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Professor Asgar Ali Kalla completed his MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree in 1975 at the University of Cape Town and his FRCP in 2003 in London. Professor Ali Kalla is the Isaac Albow Chair of Rheumatology at the University of Cape Town and also the Head of Division of Rheumatology at Groote Schuur Hospital. He has participated in a number of clinical trials for rheumatology and is active in community outreach. Prof Ali Kalla is an expert in Arthritis for Health24.

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