Medically Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on October 18, 2019
Drink More Water
The food you eat may help you manage gout and ease 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 a day had a 40% lower chance of flare-ups. But avoid sugary sodas, which may raise your odds of an attack.
Find a Diet That Works for You
Being overweight makes you more likely to have gout. So try to lose extra pounds -- it can help your symptoms. Talk with your doctor about how to make diet changes to slim down and avoid gout attacks. You may find that you can eat some foods without a problem, while others may make your gout worse.
Weight loss is the most effective way to manage gout, but a low-purine diet may help you, too. Purines are natural substances in food that your body breaks down into uric acid. Too much uric acid in your blood causes gout. Some foods, like organ meats, sardines, and anchovies, have a lot of purines and can cause flare-ups. But many healthy options, like beans, lentils, and asparagus, have less. Talk to your doctor about what you can safely eat.
Eat Plenty of Fruits
Fruits are full of fiber and other nutrients that can help you eat a balanced diet and stay at a healthy weight. Plus, they tend to have very few purines. Those that are 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 symptoms. 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 make you gain weight. Instead, focus on healthy carbs with a lot of fiber such as oats, sweet potatoes, beans, and vegetables.
Choose Fats Wisely
Cut back on saturated fats, like those in red meat and fatty poultry. Instead, eat more foods rich in fatty acids, including cold-water fish like tuna and salmon, flax and other seeds, nuts, and olive oil. Fatty acids may help lower inflammation. And try to cut back on, or get rid of, any trans fats in your diet, like those in fried foods and baked goods.
Limit Your Alcohol
Booze has a lot of purines, so it may make you more likely to have a gout attack -- especially if you have more than one drink a day. Beer seems to be worse than other alcoholic drinks because it has yeast. Even wine can contribute to gout attacks according to a 2014 study that found 1 to 2 glasses of wine consumed within 24 hours before an attack significantly increased the risk of recurrent attacks.
Use Caffeine With Caution
Moderate coffee drinking is thought to be OK for people with gout. And for some people who drink it regularly, four or more cups a day may even lower the chance of gout attacks. If you only drink caffeine sometimes, though, it may raise your uric acid levels. Talk to your doctor about whether caffeine might trigger 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 foods 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 dairy foods may even lower your odds of having the condition by more than 40%. During an attack, these foods may help you get rid of extra uric acid through your urine.
You Can't Avoid All Purines
Not all purines are bad for people with gout. A few foods that have a lot of them don't trigger the symptoms. One study found that peas, beans, mushrooms, cauliflower, spinach, and chicken -- foods that doctors once said to avoid -- may not be linked to flare-ups.