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HealthInfo Canterbury

Eating & lifestyle advice for gout

While medications can be important in treating your gout, improving your eating habits and lifestyle can also help. You may be able to make several lifestyle changes that will improve your symptoms.

Keep a healthy weight

gout-stairsBeing overweight increases your risk of gout. If you are overweight, losing excess weight can help lower your risk of gout attacks.

If you choose to lose weight, take it slowly. Losing 1 or 2 kg a month is fine. Avoid losing weight quickly, as it can actually increase your uric acid level and trigger a gout attack.

Eat three small to moderate meals each day, and one or two healthy snacks in between. Don't skip meals or go too long without eating, as this can trigger a gout attack. Managing my weight has more information about how to lose weight.

Keep active

Exercising regularly can help to prevent gout. Aim to be active for at least 30 minutes on most days. Wear supportive, well-fitting shoes, because hurting your foot could trigger a gout attack.

You can find useful ideas on how to get active in the section on Keeping active.

Limit alcohol

Alcohol increases the uric acid in your blood and increases your risk of gout. Beer and spirits seem to cause more of a problem than wine does.

If you do choose to drink alcohol, limit it to one to two standard drinks a day, and have at least two alcohol-free days every week. A standard drink is a 330 ml bottle of beer, a 100 ml glass of wine, or a 30 ml nip of spirits. During a gout attack, it's best to avoid all alcohol. You can find more helpful information on Alcohol and safe drinking.

Limit sugary drinks and foods

Limit sugary drinks and foods such as honey, sugar, fizzy drinks, cordials, and fruit juice, and high-sugar foods such as lollies, cakes, and biscuits. These may increase your risk of gout attacks and can also make you gain weight, which can make gout worse.

Limit high-purine foods

Purines are substances in foods such as meat, chicken and fish. Your body breaks purines down into uric acid, which may increase your risk of gout.

Limit the amount of meat, chicken or fish you eat to a serving the size and thickness of the palm of your hand. To get enough protein, include some lower-purine foods such as eggs, low-fat milk, low-fat yoghurt, cheese, nuts, legumes (cooked dried beans, peas and lentils) and tofu.

FDP woman drinking milkSome people find it helpful to limit foods that are very high in purines. These include:

Drink low-fat milk

Have at least two to three servings of low-fat milk or milk products, such as yoghurt, each day. One serving is 1 cup (250 ml) of milk or one pottle (150 g) of yoghurt.

Having low-fat milk products regularly can help to lower your uric acid levels and your risk of a gout attack.

Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit

Have at least five servings of vegetables and fruit a day. A servings is what fits into the palm of your hand. Vegetables and fruit contain vitamin C, which may help to lower your uric acid level and your risk of a gout attack.

However, tomatoes can raise the uric acid in your blood and increase your risk of a gout attack. If you notice that tomatoes cause gout attacks you may find it helpful to avoid them.

You can find some more helpful ideas in How to eat more vegetables and fruit.

Drink coffee in moderation

Drinking coffee may help to lower your uric acids levels and your risk of gout. However, for general health, if you choose to drink coffee, limit it to four to five cups of instant coffee or three shots of espresso a day.

Stay well hydrated

Having too much uric acid in your urine can increase your risk of kidney stones. Make sure to drink enough fluid every day to keep your urine a light straw colour. This helps to dilute the uric acid in your urine and helps to prevent kidney stones.

Aim for at least 8 cups of fluids a day (water is best). You may need more depending on your weight, how hot the weather is, and how much exercise you do. You can find more information on staying well hydrated in Are you drinking enough?

Trigger foods

Individual foods that trigger gout are different for everyone. Take note of any foods that cause a gout attack, then eat less of these foods or avoid them altogether.

Written by Healthy Eating, Healthy Ageing project, Older Persons Health and Rehabilitation (OPH&R), Canterbury DHB. Endorsed by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Updated January 2016

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