Hyperuricemia can occur either when the body produces too much uric acid or when the body does not excrete enough uric acid.
Purine compounds, whether produced in the body or from eating high-purine foods, can raise uric acid levels. Excess uric acid can produce uric acid crystals, which then build up in soft tissues and joints, causing the painful symptoms of gout.
Dietary management focuses on reducing the amount of uric acid in the system and on managing the disorders that occur frequently among patients with gout, including diabetes mellitus, obesity, hyperlipidemia (high blood levels of fats), hypertension and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
Dietary Management of Gout
The primary dietary modification traditionally recommended is a low-purine diet. Avoiding purines completely is impossible, but strive to limit them. People with gout should learn by trial and error what their personal limit is and which foods cause problems.
“Begin by eliminating foods in the ‘high-purine’ category while reducing your intake of foods in the ‘moderate-purine’ category. If you don’t have gout attacks after trying this, you may add more foods from the ‘moderate’ category or occasionally try a food from the ‘high’ category. Using these guidelines, you may be able to determine a safe level of purine consumption and enjoy some of your favorite foods without experiencing attacks.”
High-Purine Foods Include:
- Alcoholic beverages (all types)
- Some fish, seafood and shellfish, including anchovies, sardines, herring, mussels, codfish, scallops, trout and haddock
- Some meats, such as bacon, turkey, veal, venison and organ meats like liver
Moderate Purine Foods Include:
- Meats, such as beef, chicken, duck, pork and ham
- Shellfish, such as crab, lobster, oysters and shrimp