Can Changing Your Diet Prevent Gout Flare-Ups?

If you have gout, your rheumatologist has probably already explained that it’s a form of arthritis caused by an accumulation of uric acid crystals in the tissues of your big toe joint and possibly other joints. Where did those crystals come from? 

When you eat foods that contain a substance called purines, your body breaks the purines down into uric acid, which it then eliminates. But when you eat too many purines, your body can’t process them all completely. They start to pile up in the soft tissues of your joints, forming painful and needle-like crystals.

Our expert rheumatologists at the Rheumatology Center of New Jersey diagnose and treat gout and other forms of arthritis at our three New Jersey offices. If you want to control your gout flares by changing your diet, here’s what you need to know.

Change your plate proportions

If you’re in the habit of starting your meal with a big slab of meat or other purine-rich protein source such as shellfish or sweetbreads, rethink your proportions. Instead of defining your meal by the protein, dive into the veggies.

Make sure that every meal — even breakfast — is rich with fresh or lightly cooked vegetables or fruits. In fact, vegetables should take up about half of your plate, leaving just a quarter of a plate for a protein and a quarter for a healthy starch. 

You can squeeze a little low-glycemic fruit into the veggie side of your plate, or add it to your salad.

If that feels like deprivation to you, remember that getting creative with your salads and vegetable dishes can open up a whole new world of flavors and textures. You’re also joining women and men across the world who are improving their overall health by eating in ways that provide more nourishment and less junk. 

Make your world more colorful

One way to trade in those feelings of deprivation for feelings of abundance is to take advantage of recipes from around the world that rely on vegetables and fruits that you may have never heard of. 

Most local grocery stores now carry a wide variety of fresh produce that can expand your palate, including:

But a few vegetables are relatively high in purines, so limit yourself to eating no more than half a cup per day, including: 

You should also limit consumption of oats and oatmeal to two-thirds of a cup uncooked per day, legumes to one cup per day, and wheat germ and bran to a quarter cup per day.

Put the brakes on high-purine foods

Ideally, you should avoid foods and beverages that are highest in purines. The list of culprits that could trigger gout include:

Yeast is also present in both wine and beer, which you should limit, too.

Get creative

Don’t focus on what you shouldn’t eat or drink anymore. Focus instead on the whole new realm of creative cooking and combinations that are now open to you. 

Switch your usual red wine or nightcap for a fruit- or veggie-infused drink of flat or sparkling water. Search the internet for new recipes.

The Mediterranean diet is very gout-friendly and has a rich culinary history. Other types of traditional meals can also expand, rather than contract, your diet.

Despite your best efforts and new habits, if you do have a flare of gout, call our nearest location in Somerville, Flemington, or Monroe, New Jersey. You can also request an appointment using our online tool.

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