Diet plays a significant role in managing gout -- a form of arthritis characterized by painful joints, commonly affecting the feet. Along with medication, lowering uric acid through diet is a primary tool in reducing gout attacks. Foods don't contain uric acid but instead supply substances called purines, which increase uric acid in the body. Having gout means you must limit foods high in purines to control uric acid levels.
Gout and the Role of Purines
Uric acid is a waste product found normally in your body as a result of purine digestion. Purine is a compound found mostly in animal protein. When you eat foods high in purines, you have higher uric acid levels. Gout occurs when uric acid accumulates in your body. It tends to run in families, with 20 percent to 80 percent of people having a family history of gout, according to MedlinePlus, and men experience the condition more than women or children. Other risk factors include being overweight, drinking too much alcohol and taking certain medications.
The typical diet contains 600 to 1,000 milligrams of purines daily, according to the Kidney Stone Treatment and Prevention Centers. Your doctor will likely recommend a low-purine diet to reduce your uric acid levels, which typically restricts you to 100 to 150 milligrams of purines daily. You must avoid organ meats since they're very high in purines. Other foods that contain a rich level of purines are canned sardines, anchovies, trout, canned herring, and shrimp. These foods contain anywhere from 234 to 554 milligrams of purines per serving.
Moderately High-Purine Foods
Some foods are moderately high in purines, characterized by a content of about 100 to 200 milligrams of purines per 100-gram serving. These foods include cod, beef sirloin, lobster, duck, clam, squid, goose, chicken breast, bone-in pork chops and salmon. Whole grains, beans and peas, sunflower seeds and some veggies -- such as spinach, asparagus and cauliflower -- also contain moderate amounts of purines. Ask your doctor whether you need to avoid these foods altogether or if you can have them in limited quantities.
General Dietary Guidelines
Follow the guidelines your dietitian or doctor gives you. General guidelines include avoiding alcohol because it can cause gout flareups, limiting red meat and poultry and increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables. Get at least 50 percent of your calories from carbohydrates and drink low-purine beverages like tea, coffee and fruit juices, recommends Myrtle Medical Center. In addition to these beverages, water also dilutes uric acid concentration, so drink plenty of it throughout the day.