Whoever coined the saying, “You are what you eat,” was certainly on to something. Everything you put in your mouth causes ripple effects in your health status. Your diet impacts every part of your body, including your heart, gut, blood, and even your toes — particularly your big toe.
Gout is a condition caused by a buildup of excess uric acid in your body. It typically attacks the big toe because it thrives in areas that maintain a steadily cool temperature, and being the body part farthest from your heart, your big toe is the ideal spot.
One of the many types of arthritis, gout affects about 4% of American adults. While that percentage may seem small, it translates to a little over 9 million people, so you’re not alone. Neither are you alone in your quest to find a way to live with this incurable condition.
Fortunately, at Utah Musculoskeletal Specialists in Salt Lake City, Utah, our experienced podiatrists, Dr. Daniel Preece and Dr. Darren Groberg, can help relieve the pain of acute flare-ups and help you manage your condition to reduce the frequency and severity of attacks — and it all starts with your diet.
Because gout occurs when your body breaks down purine, the primary goal of the gout diet is to reduce purine in your body. While you naturally produce a little bit of this chemical, a great deal comes from food and drink. So, it’s important to include foods that control uric acid and avoid those that contain it.
Although this may sound restrictive at first, it’s not complicated, and it generally follows the rules of healthy eating for everyone: Eat moderate portions, cut back on alcohol and sugar, eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, and maintain a healthy weight.
If you’re overweight or obese, you may be able to lower the uric acid level in your body (and therefore the number of gout flare-ups you have) by losing some weight. Excess body fat makes your kidneys work harder and less efficiently, which means they won’t be able to process and eliminate uric acid properly.
As you work toward losing weight, focus on including these foods and drinks in your daily meals:
Staying hydrated gives your kidneys a hand as they flush out excess uric acid. And even though some vegetables contain purines, particularly asparagus, cauliflower, mushrooms, and spinach, research shows that these veggies won’t cause a flare-up.
The list of no-nos on the gout diet is short, but it may contain one or two of your favorites.
If one of your favorite foods is on this list, don’t panic — you don’t have to give up what you love completely. In fact, there are many health benefits to fish and seafood, so moderation is the key to keeping your flare-ups to a minimum. And other meats, like beef, turkey, chicken, and unprocessed pork, are moderate in purine content, so eating small portions is OK.
Also, reducing your alcohol intake can help lower your uric acid level, but not all alcohol is the same. Beer and distilled spirits are high in purines, but wine is lower.
While you’re doing your part to lose weight and watch your diet, we come alongside you and help you manage your gout symptoms. If the pain gets out of hand, we may suggest pain medications or steroids. In severe cases, we may prescribe medication to lower the uric acid in your system.
If you have gout and need a team of experts on your side, schedule a consultation with one of our board-certified podiatrists, and get your gout under control. Call us today or book your appointment online.