Gout was once called the ‘disease of kings’ because it was associated with wealthy men who overindulged in rich food and drink. King Henry VIII of England, who was grossly overweight, suffered from debilitating gout. Other prominent gout suffers in history include Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.
While gout is no longer confined to rich folk and kings, it is part of a class of diseases described by T. Colin Campbell of Cornell University as ‘diseases of affluence.” As John McDougall, M.D., points out, the standard Western diet of today contains more fat, sugar, and processed food stripped of its nutrients and fiber than the diets of kings and queens throughout history. Gout is a result of too much saturated fat, too many purines, and not enough plant fiber in the diet.
The Basics of the Gout Diet
Diet and hydration (keeping enough water in your body) are very important in preventing gout attacks. Drinking lots of water helps to dilute urinary uric acid, thus reducing the chance of an attack. Alcohol has the opposite effect – so you should avoid it drink no more than one to three drinks a week. Controlling weight and improving your diet are also helpful.
What Should I Avoid on the Gout Diet?
The most important element of the gout diet is to avoid high purine foods and foods that cause your body to produce large amounts of uric acid. Some purines are made in the body and some come from the food we consume. Eating foods high in purine will raise the uric acid levels in your body. Therefore, if you restrict the amount of high purine food you eat, you will lower the risk of getting gout. And reducing the amount of animal protein in your diet will help prevent attacks of gout, as well as many other lifestyle diseases.
Foods high in purines are typically protein-rich foods, such as sweetbreads, anchovies, sardines, organ meats, red meat and turkey. In addition to alcohol, specific foods that are best to avoid altogether include:
Fish and shellfish – anchovies, sardines, herrings, cod, trout, haddock, mussels, scallops, crab, lobster, oysters, shrimp
Meat – game meats, bacon, liver, kidney, brains, meat extracts, beef, ham, pork Poultry – turkey
There are also foods with moderate levels of purines. These include: