What is Gout and Which Purine-Rich Foods Do I Avoid?

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My fight with Gout, historically referred to as the Disease of Kings,1 started early in 2012. I was 31 years of age, just married, super gungho about life. One morning, I woke up with sharp pains in my left big toe and all around my left ankle. All my years of convenient meals finally caught up to me. The exercise routines, avoiding soda pop, generally healthy habits did not seem to matter in comparison to my diet.

I consulted my father who has also suffered from gout in the past, albeit at a much later stage in life. I took his advice and took daily the following:

  • 2 Advil tablets (Ibuprofen 200mg)
  • 3 MegaCare Body Restore capsules
  • 3 MegaCare Coral Plus capsules
  • LOTS of water (adding shredded unripened green papaya when available)

After 1 week, my gout was stabilized and could walk without crutches. However, to get back to the level of physical activity I was accustomed to, that took 3 months of meticulous eating habits. I had to steer clear of certain purine-rich foods.

So what exactly is Gout? WebMD describes Gout as “a kind of arthritis that is caused by a buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints. Uric acid is a breakdown product of purines that are part of many foods we eat. An abnormality in handling uric acid and crystallization of these compounds in joints can cause painful arthritis, kidney stones, and blockage of the kidney filtering tubules with uric acid crystals, leading to kidney failure.”

We are no longer just talking about walking, we are talking about our kidneys, which along with the liver are the chemical factories in the human body, responsible for the removal of toxins. We simply can’t live without the liver or the kidneys.

Upon further investigation, I learned that not all purines are created equal. Choi’s seminal work published in 2004,2 which involved a 12 year study investigating new cases of gout among 47,150 men, determined that:

  1. Higher levels of meat and seafood consumption are associated with an increased risk of gout, whereas
  1. A higher level of consumption of dairy products (especially low-fat dairy products) is associated with a decreased risk of gout.
  1. Moderate intake of purine-rich vegetables or protein is not associated with an increased risk of gout.

Despite the fact that little is known about the exact purine content in most foods, especially when cooked or processed, this study highlights the urgent need to avoid high levels of meat and seafood consumption.

Here are the recommendations from the Mayo Clinic:

MORE:

  1. Eat more complex carbs like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  2. Aim for 8 to 16 glasses of fluids (at least half of which is water) a day.
  3. Eat more high-purine vegetables like asparagus, spinach, peas, cauliflower, mushrooms, beans, and lentils.
  4. Take Vitamin C, drink coffee moderately, and eat cherries.

LESS:

  1. Avoid bad carbs such as white bread, cakes, candy, sugar-sweetened beverages, and products with high-fructose corn syrup.
  2. Cut back on saturated fats from red meats, fatty poultry, and high-fat dairy products.
  3. Limit daily proteins from lean mean, fish, and poultry to 4-6 ounces.
  4. Reducing daily calories and losing weight can lower uric acid levels.
  5. Avoid organ meats.
  6. Avoid seafood which are higher in purines than others: anchovies, herring, sardines, mussels, scallops, trout, haddock, mackerel and tuna.
  7. Avoid beer.

Being more conscious of the food choices I make, and taking my diet one meal at a time, my gout attacks seem to be less frequent and painful. Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor are my eating habits. But nothing beats having a clear roadmap to a better life.

In Good Health,

Joe Su, PhD

 

  1. G. Nuki, P. A. Simkin, A concise history of gout and hyperuricemia and their treatment, Arthritis Res Ther. 2006;8.
  1. Choi, H. K., K. Atkinson, E. W. Karlson, W. Willett, and G. Curhan. Purine- Rich Foods, Dairy and Protein Intake, and the Risk of Gout in Men. N Engl J Med. 2004 350(11): 1093-103.
Joe Su
Joe Su

Joe is the Chief Operating Officer of SUSS Technology. He received his PhD at the University of Wisconsin at Madison in Pharmaceutical Sciences. He believes that real health solutions should be accessible, affordable, safe, and effective. Joe is all about success stories and wants to see YOU succeed too!

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