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The Paleo Diet and Gout

By Aglaee Jacob ; Updated July 18, 2017

Gout is a painful condition characterized by sudden and severe episodes of pain, tenderness, redness, stiffness and swelling. This condition often attacks the large joint of the big toe, but may also occur in other joints and tissues, such as the ankles, heels, knees, fingers, wrists or elbows. Part of the treatment for gout, which is a form of arthritis, is avoiding of high-purine as well as high-fructose foods. The Paleo diet, which is based on foods your hunter-gatherer ancestors ate thousands of years ago, may be beneficial for gout.

Paleo Diet Overview

The Paleo diet is a gluten-free, grain-free, legume-free, dairy-free and sugar-free diet that promotes the consumption of whole and unprocessed foods. It is based on foods humans ate during the Paleolithic period, before the agricultural revolution. Foods allowed on the Paleo diet include seasonal fruits and vegetables; lean and natural sources of protein, which include wild-caught fish, free-range chicken, grass-fed meat and free-range eggs; and healthy fats from coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds.

Fructose Consumption

If you are prone to gout, you need to restrict your fructose intake because of its association with gout attacks. Fructose is found in fruits and all processed foods containing high-fructose corn syrup, sugar or honey. Following the Paleo diet could help you significantly reduce your fructose intake by eliminating all refined sources of sugar from your diet. The only sources of fructose on the Paleo diets are seasonal fruits.

Paleo Diet and Fructose

While following the Paleo diet, you can choose to consume seasonal fruits, up to one to two daily servings if you like, or you can eat fruits only once or twice a week, as recommended by the Paleo diet for people needing to lose weight. If you choose to include fruits, which will constitute your sole source of fructose, avoid the fruits with the highest fructose content, such as apples, pears, cherries, dates, peaches, plums, prunes and grapes.

Purine Consumption

If you have had a gout attack in the past, a health-care provider probably recommended a diet low in purines. Purines are found in beer and other grain alcohol, as well as in organ meats, game meats, meat extracts, yeast, legumes, anchovies, mussels and shellfish like shrimp and lobster. A diet high in purines results in higher levels of uric acid in your blood, which can then accumulate in your joints and trigger a gout attack. For this reason, people suffering from gout should limit their protein intake.

Paleo Diet and Purines

The Paleo diet is not a high-protein diet, but rather a low-carbohydrate, moderate-protein and high-fat diet. If you want to follow the Paleo diet and are prone to gout, stick to protein sources that have a low purine content, such as eggs and nuts, and a moderate purine content, such as most meat, poultry and fish. Avoid high sources of purines such as organ meats, anchovies, sardines, mackerel, lobster, game meats and herring. You can ask your doctor to monitor your blood uric acid levels to see the influence of your dietary changes.

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