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Slideshow: Gout: Foods that Help, Foods that Hurt

Drink More Water

Changing your diet may help you manage chronic gout and help symptoms such as joint pain. Start by drinking more water, because dehydration might trigger gout attacks. One study showed that men who drank five to eight glasses of water in a 24-hour period had a 40% lower risk of gout attacks. But avoid sugary sodas, which may raise your risk.

Find a Diet That Works for You

Being overweight raises your risk of gout. So eat a balanced diet and lose excess weight -- it can help your symptoms. Talk with your doctor about making diet changes. You may find that you can eat some foods without having a gout attack. Other foods may cause your body to react or may make your gout worse, though.

Avoid Flare-Up Foods

Weight loss is the most effective way to manage gout, but you also may benefit from eating a low-purine diet. Purines are found naturally in many foods. Your body breaks them down into uric acid. Too much uric acid in your blood causes gout. Some foods, like organ meats, sardines, and anchovies, are high in purines and can cause flare-ups. The good news is that many healthy options, like beans, lentils, and asparagus, have fewer purines. Talk to your doctor about what you can safely eat.

Eat Plenty of Fruits

Fruits provide good, fiber-filled carbohydrates and other nutrients that can help you maintain a balanced diet and healthy weight. Plus, they tend to have very few purines. Fruits high in vitamin C, like tangerines and oranges, may help prevent gout attacks. Some research shows that cherries or cherry juice can offer relief from gout. Ask your doctor if you should add cherries to your diet.

Choose the Right Carbs

If you follow diets that are low-carb or high in protein or fat, you may get too many purines. Processed carbohydrates like white bread and white-flour pasta have very few purines -- but they can lead to weight gain. Instead, focus on healthy carbs with high fiber such as oats, sweet potatoes, beans, and vegetables.

Essential Fats

Eat more foods rich in essential fatty acids, including cold-water fish like tuna and salmon, flaxseed and other seeds, and nuts. Fatty acids may help lower inflammation. Use a fatty acid-rich oil, such as olive oil, for cooking and for dressing salads. And try to cut back on, or get rid of, any trans fats in your diet.

Limit Your Alcohol

Alcohol may raise your risk of a gout attack -- especially if you have more than one drink a day -- because it's high in purines. Beer appears to be worse than other alcoholic drinks because it contains yeast. Moderate wine drinking doesn't appear to raise your risk, though.

Use Caffeine With Caution

Moderate coffee drinking is thought to be OK for people with gout. And in some people who drink coffee regularly, drinking four or more cups a day may even lower the risk of gout attacks. But caffeinated drinks may raise uric acid levels in some people who drink them just occasionally. Talk to your doctor about whether  caffeine might be causing your gout attacks.

Eat Less Meat

Eat limited amounts of chicken, pork, or lean beef -- at most, one serving a day. Those types of meat have fewer purines than organ meats like liver and sweetbreads. Other meat products like gravies and meat-based broths are also high in purines.

Enjoy Low-fat Dairy

Dairy products were once off-limits to people with gout, because they're made from animal proteins. But they're actually low in purines -- and dairy purines don't seem to cause gout. Low-fat milk and low-fat dairy may even lower your risk of gout by more than 40%. During a gout attack, low-fat dairy products may help you get rid of extra uric acid through your urine.

You Can't Eliminate Purines

You don’t need to limit all purines. A few foods that are high in purines don't trigger gout. One study found that peas, beans, mushrooms, cauliflower, spinach, and chicken -- formerly considered foods to avoid -- may not be linked to gout attacks.

Living With Chronic Gout

Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on May 06, 2014

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Quick Fact

Gout and Your Lifestyle

How can you stay healthy when you have gout? Exercise regularly and drink plenty of nonalcoholic beverages, such as water. Avoid alcohol, which raises the level of uric acid in your blood. Be sure to see your doctor regularly for follow-up visits.

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