Top Myths about Gout & Food

Did you know gout can be somewhat managed by carefully watching your diet? Certain foods can make gout worse, although the truth can be easily confused. Gout flare-ups occur when naturally occurring uric acid crystals get caught in the joints, causing extreme pain. These crystals form when the body increases its production of uric acid. Prevent the uptick in acid, and the likelihood of uric acid crystals causing problems is greatly reduced. Gout flareups are small and sharp, and then caught in the joints they can cause swelling, burning and redness. Joints affected by gout may be extremely painful to the touch, even to the slight weight of a bed sheet. Medication is helpful in treating gout, but eating the right foods -- and knowing what to avoid -- is just as critical. Read on to learn more about the top myths about gout and food.

8 Active Myths | Suggest a Myth
MYTH: Having a cup or two of coffee per day is a gout diet no-no.

Fear not, coffee lovers -- your beloved cup of coffee each morning won't hurt you. Studies have shown there are no measurable consequences for gout sufferers who have one or two cups of coffee per day. However, gout patients who consume unusually large amounts of coffee are more likely to experience flare-ups within 24-hour periods.

MYTH: Cut out alcohol -- no exceptions.

An alcoholic beverage here or there isn't likely to cause flareups of gout symptoms. However, people who consume alcohol regularly may run into problems. Some forms of alcohol are also better than others, and beer has been known to effect gout more significantly.

MYTH: You'll need to cut seafood from your diet.

Some types of seafood contain purines that can trigger the production of uric acid in your body. However, other types of seafood are fine in moderation. Avoid anchovies and sardines, which are examples of seafood that are packed with purines. Salmon, trout, shellfish and other types of seafood are moderately high in purines, but these can be enjoyed in small portions for special occasions.

MYTH: Gout patients don't need to limit their meat intake.

Many popular meats such as pork, lamb and beef are high in purines. Organ meats and fatty cuts of meat are even more loaded. While these foods can be eaten occasionally, people who have gout should limit themselves to 6 ounces of animal protein per day. This is a good rule of thumb for minimizing flare-ups.

MYTH: You can't snack when you have gout.

Snacking is just fine when you have gout, but you may want to replace sweets and fruit juices with vegetables, whole-grain products, baked chips and tea. The less sugar, the better, as sugar has been shown to raise uric acid production.

MYTH: Hydration isn't as important as which foods you eat.

A properly hydrated body is more likely to naturally keep joints free of harmful uric acid crystals. If you don't drink enough water, your risks of a painful flareup will increase. A good rule of thumb is to drive at least 64 ounces of water per day.

MYTH: Gout diets are too complicated to follow for long.

Any kind of diet is difficult to stick with if it's too complicated. That said, eating a healthy gout diet is more about simply avoiding certain foods. You don't need to worry about portion sizes or counting calories.

MYTH: Dairy products are bad for gout.

Dairy products are actually great gout foods -- but stick with reduced-fat products. Low-fat milk, non-fat yogurt and reduced-fat cheeses are all healthy and have no impact on gout flare-ups. More importantly, research has shown that people who regularly eat low-fat dairy products are less likely to experience flareups.