How Can I Prevent a Gout Attack?

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Filed Under: Gout, Bone & Joint Health
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Learn diet and lifestyle tips for preventing a painful gout flare-up

In addition to controlling gout through natural treatments, you can take steps to prevent a gout attack. Here are some recommendations:

  • Eliminate foods high in purine. The nucleic acid purine is converted by the body into uric acid. Foods that are high in purine—such as red meat, sardines, anchovies, herring, and organ meats like liver and kidney—should be avoided.
  • Avoid sugar. Sugar depletes B vitamins and increases the risk of stress-related gout episodes. In addition, the form of sugar known as fructose is linked to gout. Fructose is found in many fruits, but most of the fructose we consume nowadays comes in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, which is used to sweeten everything from bread to sodas. Studies have found that consuming just one soft drink a day increases the risk of gout by about 50 percent, and two drinks a day almost doubles it.
  • Avoid caffeine. Caffeine is broken down into uric acid.
  • Minimize alcohol intake. Byproducts of alcohol breakdown interfere with the body's ability to excrete uric acid.
  • Reduce your salt consumption. High sodium levels make it easier for uric acid to crystalize.
  • Drink more water. Drink between 2 and 3 quarts daily. Extra water dilutes and helps eliminate excess uric acid.
  • Lose weight. Gout sufferers are often overweight. Gradual weight loss will help tremendously. Sudden weight loss will cause an increase in uric concentrations.
  • Watch your yeast consumption. Yeast contains RNA, which is broken down into uric acid.
  • Avoid medications known to increase gout symptoms. These include aspirin and OTC medications that contain aspirin or salicylates, as they cause the retention of uric acid. Blood pressure medication—especially diuretics—can also be a problem because they cause an increase in urine output. However, they also increase uric acid and sugar levels in the blood, which can aggravate gout.
  • De-stress. Excess uric acid is sometimes created by your body when you're under a great deal of stress, overworked, or harboring suppressed hostility and anger.

Finally, to prevent a gout attack, be sure to maintain a slightly alkaline body pH. Sudden drops in body pH (making the body more acidic) have been shown to bring on gout attacks. Sodium urate crystals will not dissolve in water or alcohol; however, they do dissolve in some alkaline solutions. Therefore, consuming large amounts of acid-forming fruits and vegetables can make a gout flare-up worse.

More Dr. Williams Advice on Gout

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