Gout and Purines | Part 2

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Welcome to Part two of this blog series on Gout. Today we are talking about diet, and more specifically the role of purines in the diet.

If you missed part one, there we cover what gout is, what the symptoms are and the common causes.

Purines in the Diet

So, let’s briefly cover what purines and uric acid have to do with gout again.

Purines are compounds produced both in the body and are found in foods. These compounds raise uric acid levels in the body.
One cause of gout is too much uric acid in the blood. This is also known as Hyperuricemia.

This can occur either when the body produces too much uric acid or when the body does not excrete enough out.
When the levels are high, excess uric acid has the unfortunate habit of producing uric acid crystals. Further unpleasantries occur when these build up in soft tissues and joints which ultimately causes the painful symptoms of gout. 

So, I’ve talked about purines and uric acid, but where do these come from?

Purines are present in all of the body’s cells and almost all foods, which is why avoiding purines completely is impossible. Instead, limiting foods known to be high in them is advised.
Interestingly, different foods have a different effect on gout.
In studies, purines from protein foods like meat, fish and offal increased the risk of gout, but in contrast, purine high vegetables didn’t change the risk. Nor did diary foods. In fact, low-fat dairy actually appeared to lower the risk during research.

Managing your diet and focusing on reducing the intake of uric acid causing foods/beverages is one way of treating gout. For some, however, the diet can be quite restrictive and it isn’t a 100% foolproof treatment. That’s why combining it with several treatment methods is advised.
In part 3 I will be covering herbs and supplements to help prevent and ease pain caused by gout.
Alongside dietary changes, taking herbs that reduce inflammation in the joints is another superb step. Other natural remedies for gout include relaxation techniques to help alleviate pain such as deep breathing and meditation. Exercise is also fantastic.

gout blog part 2: high purine food such as shellfish. Pictures shellfish on pasta

High-Purine Foods Include: 

  • Red meat (beef, lamb and pork)
  • Offal (liver, kidneys, heart)
  • Game (venison, rabbit, pheasant)
  • Seafood and Shellfish (mussels, crab, shrimps)
  • Fish (mackerel, herring, sardines, haddock, trout, anchovies)
  • Foods containing yeast or meat extracts (for example Marmite, vegemite, beer, stout, Bovril and some shop-bought gravy powders
  • Alcoholic beverages (all types, but especially beer)
  • Mushrooms, asparagus, cauliflower, spinach and legumes

Low Purine Foods Include:

  • Fruits and Vegetables (especially Cherries, Citrus fruits and Pineapple)
  • Beans and Lentils
  • Low-fat dairy
  • Tofu
  • Whole grains
  • Coffee
4 pieces of fish being seasoned

As a general rule, it’s best to reduce your intake of fish and meat and instead focus on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and some dairy. That doesn’t mean you have to cut meat and fish but instead reduce the amount, depending on your personal tolerance.

As I mentioned previously, the consumption of purine-rich vegetables, such as asparagus and mushrooms have not been associated with an increased risk. With that in mind, assuming you are not experiencing any pain post-eating these, they shouldn’t be a problem.

And unsurprisingly, if you want to avoid gout, alcohol just isn’t your friend. Not only does it raise uric acid levels but it also promotes dehydration which, you guessed it, increases uric acid levels.

Something to note..

One strange thing to look out for is any triggers from other foods such as strawberries, oranges, tomatoes and nuts. Some people find that some of these foods will trigger their gout, despite the fact that they are not high in purines. Although there is no clear evidence to suggest why this happens, it has been suggested that since strawberries also contain oxalates, that might be the cause. Oxalates can exacerbate gout in certain patients so try to take notice if that’s also you.

If not, then strawberries and all berries for that matter provide an excellent source of vitamin C, which helps to minimize the risk of gout.

As you may have guessed by now, you’ll be learning by trial and error about what foods cause an issue and what your personal limit is before they cause you problems. 
If it helps, keep a food diary. It’s easy not to realise that throughout the day you may consume more high purine foods than you expect.

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog series on Gout here:

Keep an eye out for part three soon!

Emily Nöth

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*Please note that while we are knowledgeable about our products and nutrition, this blog should never be a substitute for medical advice and attention

Please remember that you should always obtain the all-clear from your doctor before starting any new supplement plan or diet if you’re on any medication